Full text of "Typhoon"
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
University of Toronto
First Published, 6s., April
Reprinted, June 1903; Oclober
1907. Heinemann's Seven-
penny Novels, 1912.
4 00 ^
By HALL CAINE
By R. L. STEVENSON
(With Lloyd Osbournc)
By JACK LONDON
The Call of the Wild
By H. Q. WELLS
The War of the Worlds
By ROBERT S. HICHENS
By R. HARDING DAVIS
In the Fog
Soldiers of Fortune
By E. L. VOVNICH
By MAXWELL GRAY
The Last Sentence
By D. D. WELLS
Her Ladyship's Elephant
By JOSEPH CONRAD
^ O / Typhoon
-fey HAROLD FREDERIC
The Return of the O'Mahony
II lull It
Captain Mac Whirr, of the steamer Nan-Shan, had a
physiognomy that, in the order of material appearances,
was the exact counterpart of his mind : it presented
no marked characteristics of firn^ness or stupidity ; it
had no pronounced characteristics whatever ; it was
simply ordinary, irresponsive, and unruffled.
The only thing his aspect might have been said to
suggest, at times, was bashfulncss; because he would
sit, in business offices ashore, sunburnt and smiling
faintly, with downcast e3'es. When he raised them,
they were perceived to be direct in their glance and of
blue colour. His hair was fair and extremely fine,
clasping from temple to temple the bald dome of his
skull in a clamp as of fluffy silk. The hair of his face,
on the contrary, carroty and flaming, resembled a growth
of copper wire clipped short to the line of the lip ;
while, no matter how close he shaved, fiery metallic
gleams passed, when he moved his head, over the
surface of his cheeks. He was rather below the
medium height, a bit round-shouldered, and so sturdy
of limb that his clothes always looked a shade too tight
for his arms and legs. As if unable to grasp what is
due to the difference of latitudes, he wore a brown
bowler hat, a complete suit of a brownish hue, and
clumsy black boots. These harbour togs gave to his
thick figure an air of stiff and uncouth smartness. A
thin silver watch-chain looped his waistcoat, and he
never left his ship for the shore without clutching in his
powerful, hairy fist an elegant umbrella of the very
best quality, but generally unrolled. Young Jukes, the
chief mate, attending his commander to the gangway,
would sometimes venture to say, with the greatest
gentleness, " Allow me, sir," — and possessing himself
of the umbrella deferentially, would elevate the ferule,
shake the folds, twirl a neat furl in a jiffy, and hand it
back ; going through the performance with a face of
such portentous gravity, that Mr. Solomon Rout, the
chief engineer, smoking his morning cigar over the
skylight, would turn away his head in order to hide a
smile. " Oh ! aye ! The blessed gamp. .... Thank
'ee. Jukes, thank 'ee," would mutter Captain MacWhirr
heartily, without looking up.
Having just enough imagination to carry him through
each successive day, and no more, be was tranquilly
sure of himself; and from the very same cause he was
not in the least conceited. It is your imaginative
superior who is touchy, overbearing, and difficult to
please ; but every ship Captain MacWhirr commanded
was the floating abode of harmony and peace. It was»
in truth, as impossible for him to take a flight of fancy
as it would be for a watchmaker to put together a
chronometer with nothing except a two-pound hammer
and a whip-saw in the way of tools. Yet the unin-
teresting lives of men so entirely given to the actuality
of the bare existence have their mysterious side. It
was impossible in Captain MacWhirr's case, for
instance, to understand what under heaven could have
induced that perfectly satisfactory son of a petty
grocer in Belfast to run away to sea. And yet he had
done that very thing at the age of fifteen. It was
enough, when you thought it over, to give you the idea
of an immense, potent, and invisible hand thrust into
the ant-heap of the earth, laying hold of shoulders,
knocking heads together, and setting the unconscious
faces of the multitude towards inconceivable goals and
in undreamt-of directions.
His father never really forgave him for this undutiful
stupidity. " We could have got on without him," he
used to say later on, " but there's the business. And
he an only son toot" His mother wept very much
after his disappearance. As it had never occurred to
him to leave word behind, he was mourned over for
dead till, after eight months, his first letter arrived
from Talcahuano. It was short, and contained the
statement : "We had very fine weather on our passage
out." But evidently, in the writer's mind, the only
important intelligence was to the effect that his captain
had, on the very day of writing, entered him regularly
on the ship's articles as Ordinary Seaman. " Because
I can do the work," he explained. The mother again
wept copiously, while the remark, "Tom's an ass,"
expressed the emotions of the father. He was a
corpulent man, with a gift for sly chaffing, which to
the end of his life he exercised in his intercourse with
his son, a Httle pityingly, as if upon a half-witted
MacWhirr's visits to his home were necessarily rare,
and in the course of years he despatched other letters
to his parents, informing them of his successive promo-
tions and of his movements upon the vast earth. In
these missives could be found sentences Hke this : " The
heat here is very great." Or: "On Christmas day at
4 P.M. we fell in with some icebergs." The old people
ultimately became acquainted with a good many names
of ships, and with the names of the skippers who
commanded them — with the names of Scots and
English shipowners — with the names of seas, oceans,
straits, promontories — with outlandish names of lumber-
ports, of rice-ports, of cotton-ports — with the names of
islands — with the name of their son's young woman.
She was called Lucy. It did not suggest itself to him
to mention whether he thought the name pretty. And
then they died.
The great day of MacWhirr's marriage came in due
course, following shortly upon the great day when he
got his first command.
All these events had taken place many years before
the morning when, in the chart-room of the steamer
Nan-Shan, he stood confronted by the fall of a baro-
meter he had no reason to distrust. The fall — taking
into account the excellence of the instrument, the time
of the year, and the ship's position on the terrestrial
globe — was of a nature ominously prophetic ; but the
red face of the man betrayed no sort of inward
disturbance. Omens were as nothing to him, and he
was unable to discover the message of a prophecy till
the fulfilment had brought it home to his very door.
** That's a fall, and no mistake," he thought. "There
must be some uncommonly dirty weather knocking
The Nan-Shan was on her way from the southward
to the treaty port of Fu-chau, with some cargo in her
lower holds, and two hundred Chinese coolies returning
to their village homes in the province of Fo-kien, after
a few years of work in various tropical colonies.
The morning was fine, the oily sea heaved without a
sparkle, and there was a queer white misty patch in the
sky like a halo of the sun. The fore-deck, packed with
Chinamen, was full of sombre clothing, yellow faces,
and pigtails, sprinkled over with a good many naked
shoulders, for there was no wind, and the heat was
close. The coolies lounged, talked, smoked, or stared
over the rail ; some, drawing water over the side,
sluiced each other ; a few slept on hatches, while
several small parties of six sat on their heels surround-
ing iron trap's with plates of rice and tiny teacups ,
and every single Celestial of them was carrying with
him all he had in the world — a wooden chest with a
ringing lock and brass on the corners, containing the
savings of his labours : some clothes of ceremony,
sticks of incense, a little opium maybe, bits of nameless
rubbish of conventional value, and a small heard of
silver dollars, toiled for in coal lighters, won in gamb-
ling-houses or in petty trading, grubbed out of earth,
sweated out in mines, on railway lines, in deadly
jungle, under heavy burdens — amassed patientl}',
guarded with care, cherished fiercely.
A cross swell had set in from the direction of For-
mosa Channel about ten o'clock, without disturbing
these passengers much, because the Nan-Shan, with
her flat bottom, rolling chocks on bilges, and great
breadth of beam, had the reputation of an exceptionally
steady ship in a sea-way. Mr. Jukes, in moments of
expansion on shore, would proclaim loudly that the
"old girl was as good as she was pretty." It would
never have occurred to Captain MacWhirr to express
his favourable opinion so loud or in terms so fanciful.
She was a good ship, undoubtedly, and not old
either. She had been built in Dumbarton less than
three years before, to the order of a firm of merchants
in Siam — Messrs. Sigg and Son. When she lay afloat,
finished in every detail and ready to take up the work
of her life, the builders contemplated her with pride.
" Sigg has asked us for a reliable skipper to take her
out," remarked one of the partners ; and the other, after
reflecting for a while, said : '* I think MacWhirr is
ashore just at present." *' Is he ? Then wire him at
once. He's the very man," declared the senior, with-
out a moment's hesitation.
Next morning MacWhirr stood before them unper-
turbed, having travelled from London by the midnight
express after a sudden but undemonstrative parting
with his wife. She was the daughter of a superior
couple who had seen better days.
"We had better be going together over the ship,
Captain," said the senior partner ; and the three men
started to view the perfections of the Nan-Shan from
stem to stern, and from her keelson to the trucks of her
two stumpy pole-masts.
Captain MacWhirr had begun by taking off his coat,
which he hung on the end of a steam windlass embody-
ing all the latest improvements.
" My uncle wrote or you favourably by j'^esterday's
mail to our good friends — Messrs. Sigg, you know—
and doubtless they'll continue you out there in com-
mand," said the junior partner. "You'll be able to
boast of being in charge of the handiest boat of her size
on the coast of China, Captain," he added.
" Have you ? Thank 'ee," mumbled vaguely Mac-
Whirr, to whom the view of a distant eventuality could
appeal no more than the beauty of a wide landscape to
a purblind tourist; and his eyes happening at the
moment to be at rest upon the lock of the cabin door,
he walked up to it, full of purpose, and began to rattle
the handle vigorously, while he observed, in his lo\v,
earnest voice, "You can't trust the workmen nowadays.
A brand-new lock, and it won't act at all. Stuck fast.
As soon as they found themselves alone in their
office across the yard : " You praised that fellow up to
Sigg. What is it you see in him ? " asked the nephew,
with faint contempt.
" I admit he has nothing of your fancy skipper about
him, if that's what you mean," said the elder man curtly.
" Is the foreman of the joiners on the Nan-Shan out-
side ? . . . Come in. Bates. How is it that you let
Tait's people put us off with a defective lock on the
cabin door ? The Captain could see directly he set
eye on it. Have it replaced at once. The little straws,
Bates ... the little straws. . . ."
The lock was replaced accordingly, and a few days
afterwards the Nan-Shan steamed out to the East,
without MacWhirr having offered any further remark
as to her fittings, or having been heard to utter a single
word hinting at pride in his ship, gratitude for his
appointment, or satisfaction at his prospects.
With a temperament neither loquacious nor taciturn,
he found very little occasion to talk. There were
matters of duty, of course — directions, orders, and so
on ; but the past being to his mind done with, and the
future not there yet, the more general actualities of the
day required no comment — because facts can sneak for
themselves with overwhelming precision.
Old Mr. Sigg hked a man of few words, and one that
" you could be sure would not try to improve upon his
instructions." MacWhirr satisfying these require-
ments, was continued in command of the Nan-Shan,
and applied himself to the careful navigation of his
ship in the China seas. She had come out on a British
register, but after some time Messrs. Sigg judged it
expedient to transfer her to the Siamese flag.
At the news of the contemplated transfer Jukes grew
restless, as if under a sense of personal affront. He
went about grumbling to himself, and uttering short
scornful laughs, " Fancy having a ridiculous Noah's
Ark elephant in the ensign of one's ship," he said once
at the engine-room door. " Dash me if I can stand it :
I'll throw up the billet. Don't it make yon sick, Mr.
Rout ? " The chief engineer only cleared his throat
with the air of a man who knows the value of a good
The first morning the new flag floated over the stern
of the Nan-Shan Jukes stood looking at it bitterly from
the bridge. He struggled with his feelings for a while,
and then remarked, "Queer flag for a man to sail
" What's the matter with the flag ? " inquired
Captain MacWhirr. " Seems all right to me." And
he walked across to the end of the bridge to have a
" Well, it looks queer to me," burst out Jukes, greatly
exasperated, and flung off the bridge.
Captain MacWhirr was amazed at these manners.
After a while he stepped quietly into the chart-room,
and opened his International Signal Code-book at the
plate where the flags of all the nations are correctly
figured in gaudy rows. He ran his finger over them,
and when he came to Siam he contemplated with great
attention the red field and the white elephant. Nothing
could be more simple; but to make sure he brought the
book out on the bridge for the purpose of comparing
the coloured drawing with the real thing at the flag-
staff astern. When next Jukes, who was carrying on
the duty that day with a sort of suppressed fierceness,
happened on the bridge, his commander observed :
" There's nothing amiss with that flag."
"Isn't there?" mumbled Jukes, falling on his knees
before a deck-locker and jerking therefrom viciously a
" No. I looked up the book. Length twice the
breadth and the elephant exactly in the middle. I
thought the people ashore would know how to make
the local flag. Stands to reason. You were wrong,
Jukes. . . ."
"Well, sir," began Jukes, getting up excitedly, "all
I can say " He fumbled for tlie end of the coil of
line with trembling hands.
"That's all right." Captain MacWhirr soothed him.
sitting heavily on a little canvas folding-stool he greatly
affected. " All you have to do is to take care they
don't hoist the elephant upside-down before they get
quite used to it."
Jukes flung the new lead-line over on the fore-deck
with a loud " Here you are, bo'ss'en — don't forget to
wet it thoroughly," and turned with immense resolution
towards his commander ; but Captain MacWhirr spread
his elbows on the bridge-rail comfortably.
" Because it would be, I suppose, understood as a
signal of distress," he went on. " What do you think?
That elephant there, I take it, stands for something in
the nature of the Union Jack in the flag. . . ."
"Does it!" yelled Jukes, so that every head on
the Nan-Shan's decks looked towards the bridge.
Then he sighed, and with sudden resignation : " It
would certainly be a dam' distressful sight," he said
Later in the day he accosted the chief engineer with
a confidential " Here, let me tell you the old man's
Mr. Solomon Rout (frequently alluded to as Long
Sol, Old Sol, or Father Rout), from finding himself
almost invaiiably the tallest man on board every ship
he joined, had acquired the habit of a stooping, leisurely
condescension. His hair was scant and sandy, his flat
cheeks were pale, his bony wrists and long scholarly
hands were pale too, as though he had lived all his hfe
in the shade.
He smiled from on high at Jukes, and went on
smoking and glancing about quietly, in the manner of
a kind uncle lending an ear to the tale of an excited
schoolboy. Then, greatly amused but impassive, he
" And did you throw up the billet ? "
"No," cried Jukes, raising a weary, discouraged
voice above the harsh buzz of the Nan-Shan's friction
winches. All of them were hard at work, snatching
slings of cargo, high up, to the end of long derricks,
only, as it seemed, to let them rip down recklessly by
the run. The cargo chains groaned in the gins, clinked
on coamings, rattled over the side ; and the whole ship
quivered, with her long grey flanks smoking in wreaths
of steam. " No," cried Jukes, " I didn't. What's the
good ? I might just as well fling my resignation at
this bulkhead. I don't believe you can make a man
like that understand anything. He simply knocks mc
At that moment Captain MacWhirr, back from the
shore, crossed the deck, umbrella in hand, escorted by
a mournful, self-possessed Chinaman, walking behind
in paper-soled silk shoes, and who also carried an
The master of the Nan-Shan, speaking just audibly
and gazing at his boots as his manner was, remarked
that it would be necessary to call at Fu-chau this trip,
and desired Mr. Rout to have steam up to-morrow
afternoon at one o'clock sharp. He pushed back his
hat to wipe his forehead, observing at the same time
that he hated going ashore anyhow ; while overtopping
him Mr. Rout, without deigning a word, smoked
austerely, nursing his right elbow in the palm of his
left hand. Then Jukes was directed in the same sub-
dued voice to keep the forward 'tween-deck clear of
cargo. Two hundred coolies were going to be put
down there. The Bun Hin Company were sending
that lot home. Twenty-five bags of rice would be
coming off in a sampan directly, for stores. All seven-
years'-men they were, said Captain MacWhirr, with a
camphor-wood chest to every man. The carpenter
should be set to work nailing three-inch battens along
the deck below, fore and aft, to keep these boxes from
shifting in a sea-way. Jukes had better look to it at
once. " D'ye hear, Jukes ? " This Chinaman here
was coming with the ship as far as Fu-chau, — a sort of
interpreter he would be. Bun Hin's clerk he was, and
wanted to have a look at the space. Jukes had better
take him forward. " D'ye hear, Jukes ? "
Jukes took care to punctuate these instructions in
proper places with the obligatory " Yes, sir," ejaculated
without enthusiasm. His brusque " Come along John ;
make look see " set the Chinaman in motion at his
''Wanchee look see, all same look see can do," said
Jukes, who having no talent for foreign languages
mangled the very pidgin-English cruelly. He pointed
at the open hatch. " Catchee number one piecie place
to sleep in. Eh ? "
He was gruff, as became his racial superiority, but
not unfriendly. The Chinaman, gazing sad and speech-
less into the darkness of the hatchway, seemed to stand
at the head of a yawning grave.
" No catchee rain down there — savee ? " pointed out
Jukes. '• Suppose all *ee same fine weather, one piecie
coolie-man come topside," he pursued, warming up
imaginatively. " ]\Iake so — Phooooo 1 " He expanded
his chest and blew out his cheeks. " Savee, John ?
Breathe — fresh air. Good. Eh ? Washee him piecie
pants, chow-chow top-side — see, John ? "
With his mouth and hands he made exuberant
motions of eating rice and washing clothes ; and the
Chinaman, who concealed his distrust of this pantomime
under a collected demeanour tinged by a gentle and
refined melancholy, glanced out of his almond eyes
from Jukes to the hatch and back again. " Velly
good," he murmured, in a disconsolate undertone, and
hastened smoothly along the decks, dodging obstacles
in his course. He disappeared, ducking low under a
sling of ten dirty gunny-bags full of some costly
merchandise and exhaling a repulsive smell.
Captain Mac Whirr meantime had gone on the bridge,
and into the chart-room, where a letter, commenced
two days before, awaited termination. These long
letters began with the words, " My darling wife," and
the steward, between the scrubbing of the floors and
the dusting of chronometer-boxes, snatched at every
opportunity to read them. They interested him much
more than they possibly could the woman for whose
eye they were intended ; and this for the reason that
they related in minute detail each successive trip of the
Her master, faithful to facts, which alone his con-
sciousness reflected, would set them down with pains-
taking care upon many pages. The house in a northern
suburb to which these pages were addressed had a bit
of garden before the bow-windows, a deep porch ot
good appearance, coloured glass with imitation lead
frame ia the front door. He paid five-and-lorty pounds
a year for it, and did not think the rent too high,
because Mrs. Mac Whirr (a pretentious person with a
scraggy neck and a disdainful manner) was admittedly
ladylike, and in the neighbourhood considered as "quite
superior." The only secret of her life was her abject
terror of the time when her husband would come home
to stay for good. Under the same roof there dwelt
also a daughter called Lydia and a son, Tom. These
two were but slightly acquainted with their father.
Mainly, they knew him as a rare but privileged visitor,
who of an evening smoked his pipe in the dining-room
and slept in the house. The lanky girl, upon the
whole, was rather ashamed of him ; the boy was
frankly and utterly indifferent in a straightforward,
delightful, unaffected way manly boys have.
And Captain MacWhirr wrote home from the coast
of China twelve times every year, desiring queerly to
be "remembered to the children," and subscribing
himself "your loving husband," as calmly as if the
words so long used by so many men were, apart from
their shape, worn-out things, and of a faded meaning.
The China seas north and south are narrow seas.
They are seas full of every-day, eloquent facts, such
as islands, sand-banks, reefs, swift and changeable
currents — tangled facts that nevertheless speak to a
seaman in clear and definite language. Their speech
appealed to Captain MacWhirr's sense of realities so
forcibly that he had given up his state-room below and
practically lived all his days on the bridge of his ship,
often having his meals sent up, and sleeping at night
in the chart-room. And he indited there his home
letters. Each of them, without exception, contained
the phrase, " The weather has been very fine this trip,"
or some other form of a statement to that effect. And
this statement, too, in its wonderful persistence, was
of the same perfect accuracj' as all the others they
Mr. Rout likewise wrote letters ; only no one on
board knew how chatty he could be pen in hand,
because the chief engineer had enough imagination
to keep his desk locked. His wife relished his style
greatly. They were a childless couple, and Mrs. Rout,
a big, high-bosomed, jolly woman of forty, shared with
Mr. Rout's toothless and venerable mother a little
cottage near Teddington. She would run over her
correspondence, at breakfast, with lively eyes, and
scream out interesting passages in a joyous voice at
the deaf old lady, prefacing each extract by the warning
shout, " Solomon says ! " She had the trick of firing oft
Solomon's utterances also upon strangers, astonishing
them easily by the unfamiliar text and the unexpectedly
jocular vein of these quotations. On the day the new
curate called for the first time at the cottage, she found
occasion to remark, " As Solomon says : ' the engineers
that go down to the sea in ships behold the wonders of
sailor nature' ;" when a change in the visitor's counten-
ance made her stop and stare.
"Solomon . . . Oh ! . . . Mrs. Rout," stuttered the
young man, very red in the face, " I must say ... I
don't . . ."
" He's my husband," she announced in a great shout,
throwing herself back in the chair. Perceiving the
joke, she laughed immoderately with a handkerchief
to her eyes, while he sat wearing a forced smile, and,
from his inexperience of jolly women, fully persuaded
that she must be deplorably insane. They were ex-
cellent friends afterwards ; for, absolving her from
irreverent intention, he came to think she was a very
worthy person indeed ; and he learned in time to receive
without flinching other scraps of Solomon's wisdom.
" For my part," Solomon was reported by his wife
to have said once, " give me the dullest ass for a skipper
before a rogue. There is a way to take a fool ; but a
rogue is smart and slippery." This was an airy
generalisation drawn from the particular case of
Captain MacWhirr's honesty, which, in itself, had
the heavy obviousness of a lump of clay. On the
other hand, Mr. Jukes, unable to generalise, unmarried,
and unengaged, was in the habit of opening his heart
after another fashion to an old chum and former ship-
mate, actually serving as second officer on board an
First of all he would insist upon the advantages of
the Eastern trade, hinting at its superiority to the
Western ocean service. He extolled the sky, the seas,
the ships, and the easy life of the Far East. The
Nan-Shan, he affirmed, was second to none as a sea-
" We have no brass-bound uniforms, but then we are
like brothers here," he wrote. "We all mess together
and live like fighting-cocks. . . . All the chaps of the
black-squad are as decent as they make that kind, and
old Sol, the Chief, is a dry stick. We are good friends.
As to our old man, you could not find a quieter skipper.
Sometimes you would think he hadn't sense enough to
see anything wrong. And yet it isn't that. Can't be.
He has been in command for a good few years now.
He doesn't do anything actually foolish, and gets his
ship along all right without worrying anybod}'. I
believe he hasn't brains enough to enjoy kicking up a
row. I don't take advantage of him. I would scorn
it. Outside the routine of duty he doesn't seem to
understand more than half of what you tell him. We
get a laugh out of this at times ; but it is dull, too, to
be with a man like this — in the long-run. Old Sol says
he hasn't much conversation. Conversation ! O Lord !
He never talks. The other day I had been j^arning
under the bridge with one of the engineers, and he
must have heard us. When I came up to take my
watch, he steps out of the chart-room and has a good
look all round, peeps over at the sidelights, glances at
the compass, squints upwards at the stars. That's his
regular performance. B3'-and-by he says : 'Was that
you talking just now in the port alleyway ? ' ' Yes,
sir.' ' With the third engineer ? ' * Yes, sir.' He
walks off to starboard, and sits under the dodger on
a little campstool of his, and for half an hour perhaps
he makes no sound, except that I heard him sneeze
once. Then after a while I hear him getting up over
there, and he strolls across to port, where I was. ' I
can't understand what you can find to talk about,' says
he. ' Two solid hours. I am not blaming you. I see
people ashore at it all day long, and then in the evening
they sit down and keep at it over the drinks. Must be
saying the same things over and over again. I can't
"Did you ever hear anything like that? And
he was so patient about it It made me quite sorry
for him. But he is exasperating too sometimes.
Of course one would not do anything to vex him
even if it were worth while. But it isn't. He's
so jolly innocent that if you were to put your thumb to
your nose and wave your fingers at him he would only
wonder gravely to himself what got into you. He told
me once quite simply that he found it very difficult to
make out what made people always act so queerly.
He's too dense to trouble about, and that's the truth."
Thus wrote Mr. Jukes to his chum in the Western
ocean trade, out of the fulness oi his heart and the
liveliness of his fanc}'.
He had expressed his honest opinion. It was not
worth while trying to impress a man of that sort. If
the world had been full of such men, life would have
probably appeared to Jukes an unentertaining and
unprofitable business. He was not alone in his opinion.
The sea itself, as if sharing Mr. Jukes' good-natured
forbearance, had never put itself out to startle the silent
man, who seldom looked up, and wandered innocently
over the waters with the only visible purpose of getting
food, raiment, and house-room for three people ashore.
Dirty weather he had known, of course. He had been
made wet, uncomfortable, tired in the usual way, felt at
the time and presently forgotten. So that upon the
whole he had been justified in reporting fine weather at
home. But he had never been given a glimpse of im-
measurable strength and of immoderate wrath, the
wrath that passes exhausted but never appeased — the
wrath and fury of the passionate sea. He knew it
existed, as we know that crime and abominations exist;
he had heard of it as a peaceable citizen in a town hears
TYPHOON . 21
of battles, famines, and floods, and yet knows nothing
of what these things mean — though, indeed, he may
have been mixed up in a street row, have gone without
his dinner once, or been soaked to the skin in a shower.
Captain Mac Whirr had sailed over the surface of the
oceans as some men go skimming over the years of
existence to sink gently into a placid grave, ignorant of
life to the last, without ever having been made to see
all it may contain of perfidy, of violence, and of terror.
There are on sea and land such men thus fortunate — or
thus disdained by destiny or by the sea.
Observing the steady fall of the barometer, Captain
MacWhirr thought, " There's some dirty weather
knocking about." This is precisely what he thought.
He had had an experience of moderately dirty weather
— the term dirty as applied to the weather implying
only moderate discomfort to the seaman. Had he been
informed by an indisputable authority that the end of
the world was to be finally accomplished by a cata-
strophic disturbance of the atmosphere, he would have
assimilated the information under the simple idea of
dirty weather, and no other, because he had no experi-
ence of cataclysms, and belief does not necessarily
imply comprehension. The wisdom of his country had
pronounced by means of an Act of Parliament that
before he could be considered as fit to take charge of a
ship he should be able to answer certain simple ques-
tions on the subject of circular storms such as hurri-
canes, cyclones, typhoons ; and apparently he had
answered them, since he was now in command of tlie
Nan-Shan in the China seas during the season of
typhoons. But if he had answered he remembered
nothing of it. He was, however, conscious of being
made uncomfortable by the clammy heat. He came
out on the bridge, and found no relief to this oppression.
The air seemed thick. He gasped like a fish, and began
to believe himself greatly out of sorts.
The Nan-Shan was ploughing a vanishing furrow
upon the circle of the sea that had the surface and the
shimmer of an undulating piece of grey silk. The
sun, pale and without rays, poured down leaden heat
in a strangely indecisive light, and the Chinamen were
lying prostrate about the decks. Their bloodless,
pinched, yellow faces were like the faces of bilious
invalids. Captain MacWhirr noticed two of them
especially, stretched out on their backs below the
bridge. As soon as they had closed their eyes they
seemed dead. Three others, however, were quarrelling
barbarously away forward ; and one big fellow, half
naked, with herculean shoulders, was hanging limply
over a winch ; another, sitting on the deck, his knees
up and his head drooping sideways in a girlish attitude,
was plaiting his pigtail with infinite languor depicted in
his whole person and in the very movement of his
fingers. The smoke struggled with difficulty out of
the funnel, and instead of streaming away spread itself
out like an infernal sort of cloud, smelling of sulphur
and raining soot all over the decks.
" What the devil are you doing there, Mr. Jukes ? "
asked Captain MacWhirr.
This unusual form of address, though mumbled
rather than spoken, caused the body of Mr. Jukes to
start as though it had been prodded under the fifth rib.
He had had a low bench brought on the bridge, and
sitting on it, with a length of rope curled about his
feet and a piece of canvas stretched over his knees, was
pushing a sail-needle vigorously. He looked up, and
his surprise gave to his eyes an expression of innocence
" I am only roping some of that new set of bags we
made last trip for whipping up coals," he remonstrated
gently. "We shall want them for the next coahng,
"What became of the others ?"
"Why, worn out of course, sir."
Captain MacWhirr, after glaring down irresolutely
at his chief mate, disclosed the gloomy and cynical
conviction that more than half of them had been lost
overboard, " if only the truth was known," and retired
to the other end of the bridge. Jukes, exasperated by
this unprovoked attack, broke the needle at the second
stitch, and dropping his work got up and cursed the
heat in a violent undertone.
The propeller thumped, the three Chinamen forward
had given up squabbling very suddenly, and the one
who had been plaiting his tail clasped his legs and
stared dejectedly over his knees. The lurid sunshine
cast faint and sickly shadows. The swell ran higher
and swifter every moment, and the ship lurched heavily
in the smooth, deep hollows of the sea.
" I wonder where that beastly swell comes from,"
said Jukes aloud, recovering himself after a stagger.
** North-east," grunted the literal MacWhirr, from
his side of the bridge. " There's some dirty weather
knocking about. Go and look at the glass."
When Jukes came out of the chart-room, the cast of
his countenance had changed to thoughtfulness and
concern. He caught hold of the bridge-rail and stared
The temperature in the engine-room had gone up to
a hundred and seventeen degrees. Irritated voices
were ascending through the skylight and through the
fiddle of the stokehold in a harsh and resonant uproar,
mingled with angry clangs and scrapes of metal, as if
men with limbs of iron and throats of bronze had been
quarrelling down there. The second engineer was
falling foul of the stokers for letting the steam go down.
He was a man with arms like a blacksmith, and generally
feared ; but that afternoon the stokers were answering
him back recklessly, and slammed the furnace doors
with the fury of despair. Then the noise ceased
suddenly, and the second engineer appeared, emerging
out of the stokehold streaked with grime and soaking
wet like a chimney-sweep coming out of a well. As
soon as his head was clear of the fiddle he began to
scold Jukes for not trimming properly the stokehold
ventilators; and in answer Jukes made with his hands
deprecatory soothing signs meaning : No wind — can't
be helped — you can see for yourself. But the other
wouldn't hear reason. His teeth flashed angrily in his
dirty face. He didn't mind, he said, the trouble of
punching their blanked heads down there, blank his
soul, but did the condemned sailors think you could
keep steam up in the God-forsaken boilers simply by
knocking the blanked stokers about? No, by George !
You had to get some draught too — may he be ever-
lastingly blanked for a swab-headed deck-hand if you
didn't ! And the chief, too, rampaging before the
steam-gauge and carrying on like a lunatic up and
down the engine-room ever since noon. What did
Jukes think he was stuck up there for, if he couldn't
get one of his decayed, good-for-nothing deck-cripples
to turn the ventilators to the wind ?
The relations of the " engine-rconi " and the " deck "
of the Nan-Shan were, as is known, of a brotherly
nature ; therefore Jukes leaned over and begged the
other in a restrained tone not to make a disgusting ass
of himself ; the skipper was on the other side of the
bridge. But the second declared mutinously that he
didn't care a rap who was on the other side of the
bridge, and Jukes, passing in a flash from lofty
disapproval into a state of exaltation, invited him in
unflattering terms to come up and twist the beastly
things to please himself, and catch such wind as a
donkey of his sort could find. The second rushed up
to the fray. He flung himself at the port ventilator
as though he meant to tear it out bodily and toss it
overboard. All he did was to move the cowl round a
few inches, with an enormous expenditure of force,
and seemed spent in the effort. He leaned against the
back of the wheel-house, and Jukes walked up to him.
" Oh, Heavens ! " ejaculated the engineer in a feeble
voice. He lifted his eyes to the sky, and then let his
glassy stare descend to meet the horizon that, tilting
up to an angle of forty degrees, seemed to hang on a
slant for a v^^hile and settled dov/n slowly. ** Heavens I
Phew ! What's up, anyhow ? "
Jukes, straddling his long legs like a pair of com-
passes, put on an air of superiority. " We're going to
catch it this time," he said. *' The barometer is tumb-
ling down like anything, Harry. And you trying to
kick up that silly row ..."
The word " barometer " seemed to revive the second
engineer's mad animosity. Collecting afresh all his
energies, he directed Jukes in a low and brutal tone
to shove the unmentionable instrument down his gory
throat. Who cared for his crimson barometer? It
was the steam — the steam — that was going down ;
and what between the firemen going faint and the
chief going silly, it was worse than a dog's life for
him ; he didn't care a tinker's curse how soon the
whole show was blown out of the water. He seemed
on the point of having a cry, but after regaining
his breath he muttered darkly, *' I'll faint them," and
dashed off. He stopped upon the fiddle long enough
to shake his fist at the unnatural daylight, and
dropped into the dark hole with a whoop.
When Jukes turned, his eyes fell upon the rounded
back and the big red ears of Captain MacWhirr, who
had come across. He did not look at his chief officer,
but said at once, " That's a very violent man, that
** Jolly good second, anyhow," grunted Jukes. "They
can't keep up steam," he added rapidly, and made a
grab at the rail against the coming lurch.
Captain MacWhirr, unprepared, took a run and
brought himself up with a jerk by an awning stanchion.
"A profane man," he said obstinately. "If this
goes on, I'll have to get rid of him the first chance."
" It's the heat," said Jukes. " The weather's awfuL
It would make a saint swear. Even up here I feel
exactly as if I had my head tied up in a woollen
Captain MacWhirr looked up. " D'ye mean to say
Mr. Jukes, 30U ever had your head tied up in a blanket?
What was that for ? "
" It's a manner of speaking, sir," said Jukes stolidly.
" Some of you fellows do go on I What's that about
saints swearing ? I wish you wouldn't talic so wild.
What sort of saint would that be that would swear ?
No more saint than yourself, I expect. And what's a
blanket got to do with it — or the weather either . . .
The heat does not make me swear — does it? It's
filthy bad temper. That's what it is. And what's the
good of your talking like this ? "
Thus Captain MacWhirr expostulated against the use
of images in speech, and at the end electrified Jukes by
a contemptous snort, followed by words of passion and
resentment : " Damme ! I'll fire him out of the ship if
he don't look out."
And Jukes, incorrigible, thought : " Goodness me I
Somebody's put a new inside to my old man. Here's
temper, if you like. Of course it's the weather ; what
else ? It would make an angel quarrelsome — let alone
All the Chinamen on deck appeared at their last gasp.
At its setting the sun had a diminished diameter and
an expiring brown, rayless glow, as if millions of
centuries elapsing since the morning had brought it
near its end. A dense bank of cloud became visible to
the northward; it had a sinister dark olive tint, and
lay low ard motionless upon the sea, resembling a solid
obstacle ip the path of the ship. She went floundering
towards it like an exhausted creature driven to its
death. The coppery twilight retired slowly, and the
darkness brought out overhead a swarm of unsteady,
big stars, that, as if blown upon, flickered exceedingly and
seemed to hang very near the earth. At eight o'clock
Jukes went into the chart-room to write up the ship's log.
He copied neatly out of the rough-book the number
of miles, the course of the ship, and in the column for
** wind " scrawled the word " calm " from top to bottom
of the eight hours since noon. He was exasperated
by the continuous, monotonous rolling of the ship.
The heavy inkstand would slide away in a manner that
suggested perverse intelligence in dodging the pen.
Having written in the large space under the head ox
" Remarks " " Heat very oppressive," he stuck the end
ot the penholder in his teeth, pipe fashion, and mopped
his face carefully.
" Ship rolling heavily in a high cross swell," he began
again, and commented to himself, '* Heavily is no word
for it." Then he wrote : '' Sunset threatening, with a
low bank of clouds to N. and E. Sky clear over-
Sprawling over the table with arrested pen, he
glanced out of the door, and in that frame of his vision
he saw all the stars flying upwards between the teak-
wood jambs on a black sky. The whole lot took flight
together and disappeared, leaving only a blackness
flecked with white flashes, for the sea was as black as
the sky and speckled with foam afar. The stars that
had flown to the roll came back on the return swing of
the ship, rushing downwards in their glittering multi-
tude, not of fiery points, but enlarged to tiny discs
brilliant with a clear wet sheen.
Jukes watched the flying big stars for a mor.ient, and
then wrote : "8 p.m. Swell increasing. F hip labour-
ing and taking water on her decks. Battened down
the coolies for the night. Barometer still falling." He
paused, and thought to himself, " Perhaps nothing
whatever'll come of it." And then he closed resolutely
his entries : " Every appearance oi a typhoon coming on."
On going out he had to stand aside, and Captain
MacWhirr strode over the doorstep without saying a
word or making a sign.
" Shut the door, Mr. Jukes, will you ? " he cried from
Jukes turned back to do so, muttering ironically :
"Afraid to catch cold, I suppose." It was his watch
below, but he yearned for communion with his kind ;
and he remarked cheerily to the second mate : " Doesn't
look so bad, after all — does it ? "
The second mate was marching to and fro on the
bridge, tripping down with small steps one moment, and
the next climbing with difficulty the shifting slope of
the deck. At the sound of Jukes's voice he stood still,
facing forward, but made no reply.
" Hallo ! That's a heavy one," said Jukes, swajring
to meet the long roll till his lowered hand touched the
planks. This time the second mate made in his throat
a noise of an unfriendly nature.
He was an oldish, shabby little fellow, with bad teeth
and no hair on his face. He had been shipped in a
hurry in Shanghai, that trip when the second officer
brought from home had delayed the ship three hours in
port by contriving (in some manner Captain MacWhirr
could never understand) to fall overboard into an empty
coal-lighter lying alongside, and had to be sent ashore
to the hospital v/ith concussion of the brain and a broken
limb or two.
Jukes was not discouraged by the unsympathetic
Bound. " The Chinamen must be having a lovely time
of it down there/' he said. " It's lucky for them the
old girl has the easiest roll of any ship I've ever been
in. There nov/ ! This one wasn't so bad."
" You wait," snarled the second mate.
With his sharp nose, red at the tip, and his thin
pinched lips, he alwa^'s looked as though he were
raging inwardly ; and he was concise in his speech to
the point of rudeness. All his time off duty he spent
in his cabi'i with the door shut, keeping so still in
there that he was supposed to fall asleep as soon as he
had disappeared ; but the man who came in to wake
him for his watch on deck would invariably find him
with his eyes wide open, flat on his back in the bunk,
and glaring irritably from a soiled pillow. He never
wrote any letters, did not seem to hope for news from
anywhere; and though he had been heard once to
mention West Hartlepool, it was with extreme bitter-
ness, and only in connection with the extortionate
charges of a boarding-house. He was one of those
men who are picked up at need in the ports of the
world. They are competent enough, appear hopelessly
hard up, show no evidenceof any sort of vice, and carry
about them all the signs of manifest failure. They
come aboard on an emergency, care for no ship afloat,
live in their own atmosphere of casual connection
amongst their shipmates who know nothing of them,
and make up their minds to leave at inconvenient times.
They clear out with no words of leave-taking in some
God-forsaken port other men would fear to be stranded
in, and go nsliore in conipany of a shabby sea-chest,
corded like a treasure-box, and with an air of shaking
the ship's dust off their feet.
** You wait," he repeated, balanced in great swings
with his back to Jukes, motionless and implacable.
" Do you mean to say we are going to catch it hot ? "
asked Jukes with boyish interest.
"Say? ... I say nothing. You don't catch me,"
snapped the little second mate, with a mixture of pride,
scorn, and cunning, as if Jukes' question had been a
trap cleverly detected. " Oh no ! None of you here
shall make a fool of me if I know it," he mumbled to
Jukes reflected rapidly that this second mate was a
mean little beast, and in his heart he wished poor Jack
Allen had never smashed himself up in the coal-lighter.
The far-off blackness ahead of the ship was like another
night seen through the starry night of the earth — the
starless night of the immensities beyond the created
universe, revealed in its appalling stillness through a
low fissure in the glittering sphere of which the earth
is the kernel.
" Whatever there might be about," said Jukes, " we
are steaming straight into it,"
" YovCv^. said it," caught up the second mate, always
with his back to Jukes. " You've said it, mind —
" Oh, go to Jericho ! " said Jukes frankly ; and the
other emitted a triumphant little chuckle.
" You've said it," he repeated.
"And what of that?"
" I've known some real good men get into trouble
with their skippers for saying a dam' sight less,"
answered the second mate feverishly. " Oh no I You
don't catch me."
*'You seem deucedly anxious not to give yourself
away," said Jukes, completely soured by such absurdity.
" I wouldn't be afraid to say what I thinlfc."
" Aye, to me ! That's no greitt trick. I am nobody,
and well I know it."
The ship, after a pause of comparative steadiness,
started upon a series of rolls, one worse than the
other, and for a time Jukes, preserving his equilibrium,
was too busy to open his mouth. As soon as the
violent swinging had quieted down somewhat, he said :
"This is a bit too much of a good thing. Whether
anything is coming or not I think she ought to be put
nead on to that swell. The old man is just gone in
to lie down. Hang me if I don't speak to him."
But when he opened the door of the chart-room he
saw his captain reading a book. Captain MacWhirr
was not lying down : he was standing up with one
hand grasping the edge of the bookshelf and the other
holding open before his face a thick volume. The
lamp wriggled in the gimbals, the loosened books
toppled from side to side on the shelf, the long
barometer swung in jerky circles, the table altered
its slant every moment. In the midst of all this stir
and movement Captain MacWhirr, holding on, showed
his eyes above the upper edge, and asked, " What's
the matter ? "
" Swell getting worse, sir."
" Noticed that in here," muttered Captain MacWhirr.
" Anything wrong ? "
Jukes, inwardly disconcerted by the seriousness of
the eyes looking at him over the top of the book,
produced an embarrassed grin.
" Rolling like old boots," he said sheepishly.
"Ayel Very heavy — very heavy. What do you
want ? "
At this Jukes lost his footing and began to f.ounder.
" I was thinking of our passengers," he said, in the
manner of a man clutching at a straw.
"Passengers?" wondered the Captain gravely.
*' What passengers ? "
"Why, the Chinamen, sir," explained Jukes, very
sick of this conversation.
"The Chinamen! Why don't you speak plainly?
Couldn't tell what you meant. Never heard a lot of
coolies spoken of as passengers before. Passengers,
indeed 1 What's come to you ? "
Captain MacWhirr, closing the book on his fore-
finger, lowered his arm and looked completely mystified.
" Why are you thinking of the Chinamen, Mr. Jukes ? "
Jukes took a plunge, like a man driven to it. " She's
rolling her decks full of water, sir. Thought you might
put her head on perhaps — for a while. Till this goes
down a bit — very soon, I dare say. Head to the east-
ward. I never knew a ship roll like this."
He held on in the doorway, and Captain MacWhirr,
feeling his grip on the shelf inadequate, made up his
mind to let go in a hurry, and fell heavily on the couch.
" Head to the eastward ? " he said, struggling to sit
up. " That's more than four points off her course."
"Yes, sir. Fifty degrees . . . Would just bring her
head far enough round to meet this . . ."
Captain MacWhirr was now sitting up. He had
not dropped the book, and he had not lost his place.
"To the eastward?" he repeated, with dawning
astonishment. " To the . . . Where do you think we
are bound to ? You want me to haul a full-powered
steamship four points off her course to make the
Chinamen comfortable ! Now, I've heard more than
enough of mad things done in the world — but this . . .
If I didn't know you, Jukes, I would think you were
in liquor. Steer four points oflf . . . And what after-
wards ? Steer four points over the other way, I
suppose, to make the course good. What put it into
your head that I would start to tack a steamer as if
she were a sailing-ship ? "
"Jolly good thing she isn't," threw in Jukes, with
bitter readiness. " She would have rolled every blessed
stick out of her this afternoon."
"Aye ! And you just would have had to stand and
see them go," said Captain MacWhirr, showing a
certain animation. " It's a dead calm, isn't it ? "
" It is, sir. But there's something out of the common
coming, for sure."
" Maybe. I suppose you have a notion I should
be getting out of the way of that dirt," said Captain
MacWhirr, speaking with the utmost simplicity of
manner and tone, and fixing the oilcloth on the floor
with a heavy stare. Thus he noticed neither Jukes*
discomfiture nor the mixture of vexation and astonished
respect on his face.
" Now, here's tin's book," he continued with delibera-
tion, slapping his thigh with the closed volume. " I've
been reading the chapter on the storms there."
Tiiis was true. He had been reading the chapter on
the storms. When he had enlcicd the chart-room, it
was with no intention of taking the book down. Some
influence in the air — the same influence, probably, that
caused the steward to bring without orders the Captain's
sea-boots and oilskin coat up to the chart-room — had
as it were guided his hand to the shelf; and without
taking the time to sit down he had waded with a
conscious effort into the terminology of the subject.
He lost himself amongst advancing semi-circles, left-
and right-hand quadrants, the curves of the tracks, the
probable bearing of the centre, the shifts of wind and
the readings of barometer. He tried to bring all these
things into a definite relation to himself, and ended by
becoming contemptuously angry with such a lot of
words and with so much advice, all head-work and
supposition, without a glimmer of certitude.
" It's the damnedest thing, Jukes," he said. " If a
fellow was to believe all that's in there, he would be
running most of his time all over the sea trying to get
behind the weather."
Again he slapped his leg with the book ; and Jukes
opened his mouth, but said nothing.
" Running to get behind the weather ! Do you
understand that, Mr. Jukes ? It's the maddest thing ! "
ejaculated Captain MacWhirr, with pauses, gazing at
the floor profoundly. "You would think an old woman
had been writing this. It passes me. If that thing
means anything useful, then it means that I should at
once alter the course away, away to the devil some-
where, and come booming down on Fu-chau from the
northward at tbe tail of this dirty weather that's
supposed to be knocking about in our way. From
the north I Do you understand, Mr. Jukes ? Three
hundred extra miles to the distance, and a pretty coal
bill to show. I couldn't bring myself to do that if every,
word in there was gospel truth, Mr, Jukes. Don't you
expect me . . ."
And Jukes, silent, marvelled at this display of feeling
" But the truth is that you don't know if the fellow
is right anyhow. How can you tell what a gale is
made of till you get it ? He isn't aboard here, is he ?
Very well. Here he says that the centre of them
things bears eight points off the wind ; but we haven't
got any wind, for all the barometer falhng. Where's
his centre now ? "
"We will get the wind presently," mumbled Jukes.
" Let it come, then," said Captain MacWhirr, with
dignified indignation. " It's only to let you see, Mr.
Jukes, that you don't find everything in books. All
these rules for dodging breezes and circumventing the
winds of heaven, Mr. Jukes, seem to me the maddest
thing, when you come to look at it sensibly."
He raised his eyes, saw Jukes gazing at him dubiously,
and tried to illustrate his meaning.
"About as queer as your extraordinary notion of
dodging the ship head to sea, for I don't know how
long, to make the Chinamen comfortable ; whereas all
we've got to do is to take them to Fu-chau, being timed
to get there before noon on Friday. If the weather
delays me — very well. There's your log-book to talk
straight about the weather. But suppose I went
swinging off my course and came in two days late, and
they asked mc : 'Where have you been all that time,
Captain ? ' What could I say to that ? * Went around
.0 dodge the bad weather/ I would say. ' It must 've
been dam' bad/ they would say. * Don't know/ I
would have to say; 'I've dodged clear of it.' See
that, Jukes? I have been thinking it all out this
He looked up again in his unseeing, unimaginative
way. No one had ever heard him say so much at one
time. Jukes, with his arms open in the doorway, was
like a man invited to behold a miracle. Unbounded
wonder was the intellectual meaning of his eye, vrhile
incredulity was seated in his whole countenance.
" A gale is a gale, Mr. Jukes/' resumed the Captain,
"and a full-powered steam-ship has got to face it.
There's just so much dirty weather knocking about the
world, and the proper thing is to go through it with
none of what old Captain Wilson of the Melita calls
' storm strategy.' The other day ashore I heard him
hold forth about it to a lot of shipmasters who came in
and sat at a table next to mine. It seemed to me the
greatest nonsense. He was telling them how he — out-
manoeuvred, I think he said, a terrific gale, so that it
never came nearer than fifty miles to him. A neat
piece of head-work he called it. How he knew there
was a terrific gale fifty miles off beats me altogether.
It was like listening to a crazy man. I would have
thought Captain Wilson was old enough to know
Captain Mac Whirr ceased for a moment, then said,
" It's your watch below, Mr. Jukes ?"
Jukes came to himself with a start. *' Yes, sir."
*' Leave orders to call me at the slightest change/'
said the Captain. He reached up to put the book away,
and tucked his legs upon the couch. " Shut the door
so that it don't fly open, will you ? I can't stand a door
banging. Tiiey've put a lot of rubbishy locks into this
ship, I must say."
Captain MacWhirr closed his eyes.
He did so to rest himself. He was tired, and he
experienced that state of mental vacuity which comes
at the end of an exhaustive discussion that had liberated
some belief matured in the course of meditative years.
He had indeed been making his confession of faith, had
he only known it ; and its effect was to make Jukes, on
the other side of the door, stand scratching his head
for a good while.
Captain MacWhirr opened his eyes.
He thought he must have been asleep. What was
that loud noise ? Wind ? Why had he not been
called ? The lamp wriggled in its gimbals, the baro-
meter swung in circles, the table altered its slant every
moment ; a pair of limp seaboots with collapsed tops
went sliding past the couch. He put out his hand in-
stantly, and captured one.
Jukes' face appeared in a crack of the door : only his
face, very red, with staring eyes. The flame of the
lamp leaped, a piece of paper flew up, a rush of air
enveloped Captain MacWhirr. Beginning to draw on
the boot, he directed an expectant gaze at Jukes'
twollen, excited features.
"Came on like this," shouted Jukes, " five minutes
ago . . . all of a sudd( n."
The head disappeared with a b.^ng, and a heavj
splash and patter of drops swept past the closed door
as if a pailful of melted lead had been flung against the
(house. A whistling- could be heard now upon the deep
vibrating noise outside. The stuffy chart-room seemed
as full of draughts as a shed. Captain MacWhirr
collared the other sea-boot on its violent passage along
the floor. He was not flustered, but he could not find
at once the opening for inserting his foot. The shoes
he had flung off were scurrying from end to end of the
cabin, gambolling playfully over each other like puppies.
As soon as he stood up he kicked at them viciously, but
He threw himself into the attitude of a lunging
fencer, to reach after his oilskin coat ; and afterwards
he staggered all over the confined space while he jerked
himself into it. Very grave, straddling his legs far
apart, and stretching his neck, he started to tie deliber-
ately the strings of his sou'-wester under his chin, with
thick fingers that trembled slightly. He went through
all the movements of a woman putting on her bonnet
before a glass, with a strained, listening attention, as
though he had expected every moment to hear the
shout of his name in the confused clamour that had
suddenly beset his ship. Its increase filled his ears
while he was getting ready to go out and confront
whatever it might mean. It was tumultuous and
very loud — made up of the rush of the wind, the
crashes of the sea, with that prolonged deep vibration
of the air, like the roll of an immense and remote drum
beating the charge of the gale.
He stood for a moment in the light of the lamp,
thick, clumsy, shapeless in his panoply of combat, vigi-
lant and red-faced.
*' There's a lot of weight in this,*" ne muttered.
As soon as he attempted to open the door the wind
caught it. Clinging to the handle, he was dragged out
over the doorstep, and at once found himself engaged
v/ith the wind in a sort of personal scuffle whose object
was the shutting of that door. At the last moment a
tongue of air scurried in and licked out the flame of the
Ahead of the ship he perceived a great darkness
lying upon a multitude of white flashes ; on the star-
board beam a few amazing stars drooped, dim and
fitful, above an immense waste of broken seas, as if
seen through a mad drift of smoke.
On the bridge a knot of men, indistinct and toiling,
were making great efforts in the light of the wheel-
house windows that shone mistily on their heads and
backs. Suddenly darkness closed upon one pane, then
on another. The voices of the lost group reached him
after the manner of men's voices in a gale, in shreds
and fragments of forlorn shouting snatched past the
ear. All at once Jukes appeared at his side, yelling,
with his head down.
"Watch — put in — wheelhouse shutters — glass —
afraid — blow in."
Jukes heard his commander upbraiding.
" This — come — anything — warning — call me."
He tried to explain, with the uproar pressing on his
" Light air — remained — bridge — sudden — north-cast
— could turn — thought — you — sure — hear."
They had gained the shelter of the weather-cloth,
and could converse with raised voices, as jv-cilo
** I got the hands along to cover up all the ventilators.
Good job I had remained on deck I didn't think you
would be asleep, and so . . . What did you say, sir ?
What ? "
" Nothing/' cried Captain Mac Whirr. " I said — all
"By all the powers ! We've got it this time," ob-
served Jakes in a howl.
*' You haven't altered her course ?'* inquired Captain
MacWhirr, straining his voice,
" No, sir. Certainly not. Wind came out right
ahead. And here comes the head sea."
A plunge of the ship ended in a shock as if she had
landed her forefoot upon something solid. After a
m oment of stillness a lofty flight of sprays drove hard
with the wind upon their faces.
" Keep her at it as long ac we can," shouted Captain
Before Jukes had squeezed the salt water out of his
ves all the stars had disappeared.
fuKES was as ready a man as any half-dozen young
mates that may be caught by casting a net upon
the waters ; and though he had been somewhat tanen
aback by the startling viciousness of the first squall, be
had pulled himself together on the instant, had called
out the hands and had rushed them along to secure
such openings about the deck as had not been already
battened down earlier in the evening. Shouting in his
fresh, stentorian voice, " Jump, boys, and bear a hand ! "
he led in the work, telling himself the while that he had
"just expected this."
But at the same time he was growing aware that
this was rather more than he had expected. From the
first stir of the air felt on his cheek the gale seemed to
take upon itself the accumulated impetus of an avalanche.
Heavy sprays enveloped the Nan-Shan from stenj to
stern, and instantly in the midst of her regular rolling
she began to jerk and plunge as though she had gone
mad with fright.
Jukes thought, "This is no joke." While he was
exchanging explanatory yells with his captain, a sudden
lowering of the darkness came upon the night, falling
before their vision like something palpable. It was as
if the masked lights of the world had been turned down.
Jukes was uncritically glad to have his captain at hand
It relieved him as though that man had, by simjiiy
coming on deck, taken most of the gale's weight upon
his shoulders. Such is the prestige, the privilege, and
the burden of command.
Captain MacWhirr could expect no relief of that sort
from any one on earth. Such is the loneliness of com-
mand. He was trying to see, with that watchful manner
of a seaman who stares into the wind's eye as if into
the eye of an adversary, to penetrate the hidden inten-
tion and guess the aim and force of the thrust. The
strong wind swept at him out of a vast obscurity ; he
felt under his feet the uneasiness of his ship, and he
could not even discern the shadow of her shape. He
wished it were not so ; and very still he waited, feeling
stricken by a blind man's helplessness.
To be silent was natural to him, dark or shine.
Jukes, at his elbow, made himself heard yelling
cheerily in the gusts, " We must have got the worst of
it at once, sir." A faint burst of lightning quivered all
round, as if flashed into a cavern — into a black and
secret chamber of the sea, with a floor of foaming crests.
It unveiled for a sinister, fluttering moment a ragged
mass of clouds hanging low, the lurch ot the long out-
lines of the ship, the black figures of men caught on
the bridge heads forward, as if petrified in the act of
butting. The darkness palpitated down upon all this,
and then the real thing came at last.
It was something formidable and swift, like the
sudden smashing of a vial of wrath. It seemed to
explode all round the ship with an overpowering con-
cussion and a rush of great waters, as if an immense
dam had been blown up to windward. In an instant
the men lost touch of each other. This is the dis-
integrating power of a great wind : it isolates one from
one's kind. An earthquake, a landslip, an avalanche,
overtake a man incidentally, as it were — without passion.
A furious gale attacks him like a personal enemy, tries
to grasp his limbs, fastens upon his mind, seeks to rout
his very spirit out of him.
Jukes was driven away from his commander. He
fancied himself whirled a great distance through the
air. Everything disappeared — even, for a moment, his
power of thinking ; but his hand had found one of the
rail-stanchions. His distress was by no means alleviated
by an inclination to disbelieve the reality of this ex-
perience. Though young, he had seen some bad
weather, and had never doubted his ability to imagine
the worst ; but this was so much beyond his powers of
fancy that it appeared incompatible with the existence
of any ship whatever. He would have been incredulous
about himself in the same way, perhaps, had he not
been so harassed by the necessity of exerting a wrestling
effort against a force trying to tear him away from his
hold. Moreover, the conviction of not being utterly
destroyed returned to him through the sensations of
being half-drowned, bestially shaken, and partly
It seemed to him he remained there precariously
alone with the stanchion for a long, long time. The
rain poured on him, flowed, drove in sheets. He
breathed in gasps; and sometimes the water he
swallowed was fresh and sometimes it was salt. For
the most part he kept his eyes shut tight, as if suspect-
ing his sight might be destroyed in the immense flurry
of the elements. When he ventured to blinh hastily, he
derived some moral support from the green gleam oi
tl-ie starboard light shining feebly upon the fught oi
rain and sprays. He was actually looking at it when
its ray fell upon the uprearing sea which put it out.
He saw the head of the wave topple over, adding the
mite of its crash to the tremendous uproar raging
aj ound hirn, and almost at the same instant the stanchion
was wrenched away from his embracing arms. After a
crushing thump on his back he found himself suddenly
afloat and borne upwards. His first irresistible notion
was that the whole China Sea had climbed on the
bridge. Then, more sanely, he concluded himself gone
overboard. All the time he was being tossed, flung,
and rolled in great volumes of water, he kept on repeat-
ing' mentally, with the utmost precipitation, the words:
^* My God ! My God ! My God ! My God ! "
All at once, in a revolt of misery and despair, he
i*oi med the crazy resolution to get out of that. And he
began to thresh about with his arms and legs. But
as soon as he commenced his wretched struggles he
discovered that he had become somehow mixed up
with a face, an oilskin coat, somebody's boots. He
clawed ferociously all these things in turn, lost them,
found them again, lost them once more, and finall}'- was
himself caught in the firm clasp of a pair of stout arms.
He returned the embrace closely round a thick solid
body. He had found his captain.
They tumbled over and over, tightening their hug.
Suddenly the water let them down with a brutal bang;
and, stranded against the side of the whcelhouse, out of
breath and bruised, they were left to stagger up in the
wind and hold on where they could.
Jukes came out of it rather horrified, as though he
had escaped some unparalleled outrage directed at his
feelings. It weakened his faith in himself. He started
shouting aimlessly to the man he could feel near h'.ra
in that fiendish blackness, " Is it you, sir ? Is it 3'ou,
sir ? " till his temples seemed ready to burst. And he-
heard in answer a voice, as if crying far away, as it
screaming to him fretfully from a very great distance,
the one word "Yes!" Other seas swept again over
the bridge. He received them defencelessly right
over his bare head, with both his hands engaged in
The motion of the ship was extravagant. Her lurches
had an appalling helplessness: she pitched as if tr'iir^r:
a header into a void, and seemed to find a wall to hit
every time. When she rolled she fell on her side head-
long, and she vcould be righted back by such a demolish-
ing blow that Jukes felt her reeling as a clubbed man
reels before he collapses. The gale howled and scufHed
about gigantically in the darkness, as though the entire
world were one black gully. At certain moments the air
streamed against the ship as if sucked through a tutjnel
with a concentrated solid force of irhpact that seemed to
lift her clean out of the water and keep her up f: r an
instant with only a quiver running through her from
end to end. And then she would begin her tumbling
again as if dropped back into a boiling cauldron. Jukes
tried hard to compose his mind and judge things C00II3'.
The sea, flattened down in the heavier gusts, would
uprise and overwhelm both ends of the Nan-Shan in
snowy rushes of foam, expanding wide, beyond both
rails, into the night. And on tlsis dazzling sheet, spi-ead
under the blackness of the clouds and emitting a bluish
glow, Captain Mac Whirr could catch a desolate glimpse
of a few tiny specks black as ebony, the tops of the
hatches, the battened companions, the heads of the
covered winches, the foot of a mast. This was all he
could see of his ship. Her middle structure, covered
by the bridge which bore him, his mate, the closed
whcelhouse where a man was steering shut up with the
fear of being swept overboard together with the whole
thing in one great crash — her middle structure was like
a half-tide rock awash upon a coast. It was like an out-
lying rock with the water boiling up, streaming over,
pouring off, beating round — like a rock in the surf to
which shipwrecked people cling before they let go —
only it rose, it sank, it rolled continuously, without
respite and rest, like a rock that should have miracu-
lously struck adrift from a coast and gone wallowing
upon the sea.
The Nan-Shan was being looted by the storm with
a senseless, destructive fury: tr3'sails torn out of the
extra gaskets, double-lashed awnings blown away,
bridge swept clean, weather-cloths burst, rails twisted,
light-screens smashed — and two of the boats had gone
already. They had gone unheard and unseen, melting,
as it were, in the shock and smother of the wave. It
was only later, when upon the white flash of another
high sea hurling itself amidships, Jukes had a vision of
two pairs of davits leaping black and empty out of the
solid blackness, with one overhauled fall flying and an
iron-bound blQ>ck capering in the air, that he became
aware of what had happened within about three yards
of his back.
He poked his head forward, groping for the ear of
his commander. His lips touched it — big, fleshy, very
wet. He cried in an agitated tone, " Our boats are
going now, sir."
And again he heard that voice, forced and ringing
feebly, but with a penetrating effect of quietness in the
enormous discord of noises, as if sent out from some
remote spot of peace beyond the black wastes of the
gale ; again he heard a man's voice — the frail and
indomitable sound that can be made to carry an infinity
of thought, resolution and purpose, that shall be pro-
nouncing confident words on the last day, when
heavens fall, and justice is done — again he heard it,
and it was crying to him, as if from very, very far —
He thought he had not managed to make himself
understood. " Our boats — I say boats — the boats, sir !
Two gone I "
The same voice, within a foot of him and yet so re-
mote, yelled sensibly, " Can't be helped."
Captain MacWhirr had never turned his face, but
Jukes caught some more words on the wind.
"What can — expect — when hammering through —
such Bound to leave — something behind — stands
Watchfully Jukes listened for more. No more came.
This was all Captain MacWhirr had to say; and Jukes
could picture to himself rather than see the broad
squat back before him. An impenetrable obscurity
pressed down upon the ghostly glimmers of the sea.
A dull conviction seized upon Jukes that there was
nothing to be done.
If the steering-gear did not give way, if the immense
volumes of water did not burst the deck in or smash
one of the hatches, if the engines did not give up, if
way could be kept on the ship against this terrific wind,
and she did not bury herself in one of these awful seas,
of whose white crests alone, topping high above her
bows, he could now and then get a sickening glimpse
— then there was a chance of her coming out of it.
Something within him seemed to turn over, bringing
uppermost the feeling that the Nan-Shan was lost.
" She's done for," he said to himself, with a sur-
prising mental agitation, as though he had discovered
an unexpected meaning in this thought. One of these
things was bound to happen. Nothing could be pre-
vented now, and nothing could be remedied. The men
on board did not count, and the ship could not last.
This weather was too impossible.
Jukes felt an arm thrown heavily over his shoulders ;
and to this overture he responded with great intelli-
gence by catching hold of his captain round the
They stood clasped thus in the blind night, bracing
each other against the wind, cheek to cheek and lip lo
ear, in the manner of two hulks lashed stem to stern
And Jukes heard the voice of his commander hardly
any louder than before, but nearer, as though, starting
to march athwart the prodigious rush of the hurricane,
it had approached him, bearing that strange effect of
quietness like the serene glow of a halo.
"D'ye know wliere the hands got to?" it asked,
vigorous and evanescent at the same time, overcoming
the strength of the wind, and swept away from Jukes
Jukes didn't know. The}' v:ere all on the bridge
when the real force of the hurricane struck the ship.
He had no idea where they had crawled to. Under
the circumstances they were nowhere, for all the use
that could be made of them. Somehow the Captain's
wish to know distressed Jukes.
" Want the hrinds, sir ? " he cried apprehensively.
"Ought to know," asserted Captain Mac Whirr.
" Hold hard."
They held hard. An outburst of unchained fury, a
vicious rush of the wind absolutely steadied the ship ;
she rocked only, quick and light like a child's cradle,
for a terrific moment of suspense, while the whole
atmosphere, as it seemed, streamed furiously past her,
roaring away from the tenebrous earth.
It suffocated them, and with eyes shut they tightened
their grasp. What from the magnitude of the shock
might have been a column of water running upright in
the dark, butted against the ship, broke short, and fell
on her bridge, crushingly, from on high, with a dead
A flying fragment of that collapse, a mere splash,
enveloped them in one swirl from their feet over tlieir
heads, filling violently their ears, mouths and nostrils
with salt water. It knocked out their legs, wrenched
in haste at their arms, seethed away swiftly under their
chins ; and opening their eyes, they saw the piled-up
mnsscs of foam dashing to and fro amongst what looked
like the fragments of a sliip. She had given way as if
driven straight in. Their panting hearts yielded too
before the tremendous blow ; and all at once she sprang
up again to her desperate plunging, as if trying to
scramble out from under the ruins.
The seas in the dark seemed to rush from all sides
to keep her back where she might perish. There was
hate in the way she was hat^dled, and a ferocity in the
blows that fell. She was like a living creature thrown
to the rage of a mob : hustled terribly, struck at, borne
up, flung down, leaped upon. Captain MacWhirr and
Jukes kept hold of each other, deafened by the noise,
gagged by the wind ; and the great physical, tumult
beating about their bodies, brought, like an unbridled
display of passion, a profound trouble to their souls.
One of these wild and appalling shrieks that are heard
at times passing mysteriously overhead in the steady
roar of a hurricane, swooped, as if borne on wings,
upon the ship, and Jukes tried to outscream it.
*' Will she live through this ? "
The cry was wrenched out of his breast. It was as
unintentional as the birth of a thought in the head, and
he heard nothing of it himself. It all became extinct
at once — thought, intention, effort — and of his cry the
inaudible vibration added to the tempest waves of
He expected nothing from it. Nothing at all. For
indeed what answer could be made? But after awhile
he heard with amazement the frail and resisting voice
in his ear, the dwarl sound, unconquered in the giant
" She may ! "
It was a dull 3'ell, more difficult to seize than a
whisper And presently the voice returned again, half
submerged in the vast crashes, like a ship battling
against the waves of an ocean.
** Let's hope so ! " it cried — small, lonely and un-
moved, a stranger to the visions of hope or fear; and
it flickered into disconnected words : " Ship . . . This
. . . Never — Anyhow ... for the best." Jukes gave
Then, as if it had come suddenly upon the one thing
fit to withstand the power of a storm, it seemed to
gain force and firmness for the last broken shouts :
" Keep on hammering . . . builders . . . good men
. . . And chance it . . . engines . . . Rout . . . good
Captain MacWhirr removed his arm from Jukes*
shoulders, and thereby ceased to exist for his mate, so
dark it was ; Jukes, after a tense stiffening of every
muscle, would let himself go limp all over. The
gnawing of profound discomfort existed side by side
with an incredible disposition to somnolence, as though
he had been buffeted and worried into drowsiness.
The wind would get hold of his head and try to shake
it off his shoulders ; his clothes, full of water, were as
heavy as lead, cold and dripping like an armour of
melting ice : he shivered — it lasted a long time ; and
with his hands closed hard on his hold, he was letting
himself sink slowly into the depths of bodily misery.
His mind became concentrated upon himself in an
aimless, idle way, and when something pushed lightly
at the back of his knees he nearly, as the saying is,
jumped out of his skin.
In the start forward he bumped the back of Captain
MacWhirr, who didn't move ; and then a hand gripped
his thigh. A lull had come, a menacing lull ot the
wind, the holding of a stormy breath — and he felt him-
self pawed all over. It was the boatswain. Jukes
recognised these hands, so thick and enormous that
they seemed to belong to some new species of man.
The boatswain had arrived on the bridge, crawling
on all fours against the wind, and had found the chief
mate's legs with the top of his head. Immediately he
crouched and began to explore Jukes' person upwards,
with prudent, apologetic touches, as became an inferior.
He was an ill-favoured, undersized, gruff sailor of
fifty, coarsely hairy, short-legged, long-armed, resemb-
hng an elderly ape. His strength was immense ; and
in his great lumpy paws, bulging like brown boxing-
gloves on the end of furry forearms, the heaviest objects
were handled like playthings. Apart from the grizzled
pelt on his chest, the menacing demeanour and the
hoarse voice, he had none of the classical attributes oi
his rating. His good nature almost amounted to im-
becility : the men did what they liked with him, and he
had not an ounce of initiative in his character, which
was easy-going and talkative. For these reasons Jukes
disliked him ; but Captain MacWhirr, to Jukes' scorn-
ful disgust, seemed to regard him as a first-rate petty
He pulled himself up by Jukes' coat, taking that
liberty with the greatest moderation, and only so far
as it was forced upon him by the hurricane.
"What is it, boss'n, what is it?" yelled Jukes,
impatiently. What could that fraud of a boss'n want
on the bridge ? The typhoon had got on Jukes' nerves.
The husky bellowings of the other, though unintelli-
gible, seemed to suggest a state of lively satisfaction.
There could be no mistake. The old fool was pleased
The boatswain's other hand had found some other
bod}', for in a changed tone he began to inquire : " Is
it you, sir ? Is it you, sir ? " The wind strangled his
" Yes ! " cried Captain Mac Whirr.
All that the boatswain, out of a superabundance of
yells, could make clear to Captain Mac Whirr was the
bizarre intelligence that " All them Chinamen in the
fore 'tween deck have fetched away, sir."
Jukes to leeward could hear these two shouting
within six inches of his face, as you may hear on a still
night half a mile away two men conversing across a
field. He heard Captain MacWhirr's exasperated
"What? What?" and the strained pitch of the
other's hoarseness. " In a lump . . . seen them my-
self. . . Awful sight, sir ... thought . . . tell
Jukes remained indifferent, as if rendered irrespon-
sible by the force of the hurricane, which made the
very thought of action utterly vain. Besides, being
very young, he had found the occupation of keeping
Ws heart completely steeled against the worst so en-
grossing that he had come to feel an overpowering
dislike towards any other form of activity whatever.
He was not scared ; he knew this because, firmly
believing he would never see another sunrise, he re-
mained calm in that belief.
These are the moments of do-nothing heroics to
which even good men surrender at times. Many
officers of ships can no doubt recall a case in their
experience when just such a trance of confounded
stoicism would come all at once over a whole ship's
company. Jukes, however, had no wide experience of
men or storms. He conceived himself to be calm —
inexorably calm ; but as a matter of fact he was
daunted ; not abjectly, but only so far as a decent man
may, without becoming loathsome to himself.
It was rather like a forced-on numbness of spirit.
The long, long stress of a gale does it ; the suspense
of the interminably culminating catastrophe ; and there
is a bodily fatigue in the mere holding on to existence
within the excessive tumult ; a searching and insidious
fatigue that penetrates deep into a man's breast to cast
down and sadden his heart, which is incorrigible, and
of all the gifts of the earth — even before life itself —
aspires to peace.
Jukes was benumbed much more than he supposed.
He held on — very wet, very cold, stiff in every hmb ;
and in a momentary hallucination of swift visions (it is
said that a drowning man thus reviews all his life) he
beheld all sorts of memories altogether unconnected
with his present situation. He remembered his father,
for instance : a worthy business man, who at an un-
fortunate crisis in his affairs went quietly to bed and
died forthwith in a state of resignation. Jukes did not
recall these circumstances, of course, but remaining
otherwise unconcerned he seemed to see distinctly the
poor man's face ; a certain game of nap played when
quite a boy in Table Bay on board a ship, since lost
with all hands ; the thick eyebrows of his first skipper ;
and without any emotion, as he might years ago have
walked listlessly into her room and found her sitting
there with a book, he remembered his mother — dead,
too, now — the resolute woman, left badly off, who had
been very firm in his bringing up.
It could not have lasted more than a second, perhaps
not so much. A heavy arm had fallen about his shoul-
ders ; Captain MacWliirr's voice was speaking his name
into his ear.
He detected the tone of deep concern. The wind
had thrown its weight on the ship, trying to pin her
down amongst the seas. They made a clean breach
over her, as over a deep-swimming log ; and the gathered
weight of crashes menaced monstrously from afar. The
breakers flung out of the night with a ghostly light on
their crests — the light of sea-foam that in a ferocious,
boiling-up pale flash showed upon the slender body of
the ship the toppling rush, the downfall, and the seeth-
ing mad scurry of each wave. Never for a moment
could she shake herself clear of the water ; Jukes, rigid,
perceived in her motion the ominous sign of haphazard
floundering. She was no longer struggling intelli-
gently. It was the beginning of the end ; and the
note of busy concern in Captain MacWhirr's voice
sickened him like an exhibition of blind and pernicious
The spell of the storm had fallen upon Jukes. He
was penetrated by it, absorbed by it ; he was rooted in
it with a rigour of dumb attention. Captain MacWhirr
persisted in his cries, but the wind got between them
like a solid wedge. He hung round Jukes' neck as
heavy as a millstone, and suddenly the sides of their
heads knocked together.
" Jukes 1 Mr. Jukes, I say I "
He had to answer that voice that would not be
silenced. He answered in the customary manner :
". . . Yes, sir."
And directly, his heart, corrupted by the storm that
breeds a craving for peace, rebelled against the tyranny
of training and command.
Captain MacWhirr had his mate's head fixed firm in
the crook of his elbow, and pressed it to his yelling
lips mysteriously. Sometimes Jukes would break in,
admonishing hastily: "Look out, sir!" or Captain
MacWhirr would bawl an earnest exhortation to " Hold
hard, there 1 " and the whole black universe seemed to
reel together with the ship. 1 hey paused. She floa<;cd
yet. And Captain MacWhirr would resume his shouts.
" . . . Says . . . whole lot . . . fetched away . . .
Ought to see . . . what's the matter."
Directly the full force of the hurricane had struck the
ship, every part of her deck became untenable ; and the
sailors, dazed and dismayed, took shelter in the port
alleyway under the bridge. It had a door aft, which
they shut ; it was very black, cold, and dismal. At
each heavy fling of the ship they would groan all
together in the dark, and tons of water could be heard
scuttling about as if trying to get at them from above.
The boatswain had been keeping up a gruff talk, but a
more unreasonable lot of men, he said afterwaids, he
had never been with. They were snug enough there,
out of harm's way, and not wanted to do anything,
either ; and yet they did nothing but grumble and com-
plain peevishly like so many sick kids. Finally, one of
them said that if there had been at least some light to
see each other's noses by, it wouldn't be so bad. It
was making him cazry, he declared, to lie there in the
dark waiting for the blamed hooker to sink.
" Why don't you step outside, then, and be done with
it at once ? " the boatswain turned on him.
This called up a shout of execration. The boatswain
found himself overwhelmed with reproaches of all sorts.
They seemed to take it ill that a lamp was not instantly
created for them out of nothing. They would whine
after a light to get drowned by — anyhow ! And though
the unreason of their revilings was patent — since no
one could hope to reach the lamp-room, which was
forward — he became greatly distressed. He did not
think it was decent of them to be nagging at him like
this. He told them so, and was met by general con-
tumely. He sought refuge, therefore, in an embittered
silence. At the same time their grumbling and sighing
and muttering worried him greatly, but by-and-by it
occurred to him that there were six globe lamps hung
in the 'tween-deck, and that there could be no harm in
depriving the coolies of one of them.
The Nan-Shan had an athwartship coal-bunker,
which, being at times used as cargo space, communi-
cated by an iron door with the fore 'tween-deck. It was
empty then, and its manhole was the foremost one in
the alleyway. The boatswain could get in, therefore,
without coming out on deck at all ; but to his great
surprise he found he could induce no one to help him
in taking off the manhole cover. He groped for it all
the same, but one of the crew lying in his way refused
" Why, I only want to get you that blamed light you
are crying for," he expostulated, almost pitifully.
Somebody told him to go and put his head in a bag.
He regretted he could not recognise the voice, and that
it was too dark to see, otherwise, as he said, he would
have put a head on that son of a sea-cook, an3^way,
sink or swim. Nevertheless, he had made up his
mind to show them he could get a light, if he were to
die for it.
Through the violence of the ship's rolling, every
movement was dangerous. To be lying down seemed
labour enough. He nearly broke his neck dropping
into the bunker. He fell on his back, and was sent
shooting helplessly from side to side in the dangerous
company of a heavy iron bar — a coal-trimmer's slice
probably — left down there by somebody. This thing
made him as nervous as though it had been a wild
beast. He could not see it, the inside of the bunker
coated with coal-dust being perfectly and impenetrably
black; but he heard it sliding and clattering, and
striking here and there, always in the neighbourhood oi
his head. It seemed to make an extraordinary noise,
too — to give heavy thumps as though it had been as big
as a bridge girder. Tliis was remarkable enough for
him to notice while he was flung from port to starboard
and back ag-^'n, and clawing desperately the smooth
sides of the bunker in the endeavour to stop himself.
The door into the 'tween-deck not fitting quite true, he
saw a thread of dim light at the bottom.
Being a sailor, and a still active man, he did not want
much of a chance to regain his feet ; and as luck would
have it, in scrambling up he put his hand on the iron
slice, picking it up as he rose. Otherwise lie would
have been afraid of the thing breaking his legs, or at
least knocking him down again. At first he stcod still.
He felt unsafe in this darkness that seemed to make the
ship's motion unfamiliar, unforeseen, and difficult to
counteract. He felt so much shaken for a moment that
he dared not move for fear of " taking charge again."
He had no mind to get battered to pieces in that
He had struck his head twice ; he was dazed a little.
He seemed to hear yet so plainly the clatter and bangs
of the iron slice flying about his ears that he tightened
his grip to prove to himself he had it there safely in
his hand. He was vaguely amazed at the plainness
with which down there he could hear the gale raging.
Its howls and shrieks seemed to take on, in the empti-
ness of the bunker, something of the human character,
of human rage and pain — being not vast but infinitely
poignant. And there were, with every roll, thumps
too — profound, ponderous thumps, as if a bulky object
of five-ton weight or so had got play in the hold. But
there v/as no such thing in the cargo. Something on
deck ? Impossible. Or alongside ? Couldn't be.
He thought all this quickly, clearly, competently,
like a seaman, and in the end remained puzzled. This
noise, though, came deadened from outside, together
with the washing and pouring of water on deck above
his head. Was it the wind ? Must be. It made down
there a row like the shouting of a big lot of crazsd
men. And he discovered in himself a desire for a
light too — if onl3^ to get drowned by — and a nervous
anxiety to get out of that bunker as quickly as
He pulled back the bolt : the heavy iron plate turned
on its hinges ; and it was though he had opened the
door to the sounds of the tempest. A gust of hoarse
yelling met him : the air was still ; and the rushing cf
water overhead was covered by a tumult of strangled,
throaty shrieks that produced an effect of desperate
confusion. He straddled his legs the whole width of
the doorway and stretched his neck. And at first he
perceived only what he had come to seek : six small
yellow flames swinging violently on the great body of
It was stayed like the gallery of a mine, with a row
of stanchions in the middle, and cross-beams over-
head, penetrating into the gloom ahead — indefinitely.
And to port there loomed, like the caving in of one of
the sides, a bulky mass with a slanting outline. The
whole place, with the shadows and the shapes, moved
all the time. The boatswain glared : the ship lurched
to starboard, and a great howl came from that mass
that had the slant of fallen earth.
Pieces of wood whizzed past. Planks, he thought,
inexpressibly startled, and flinging back his head. At
his feet a man went sliding over, open-eyed, on his
back, straining with uplifted arms for nothing : and
another came bounding like a detached stone with his
acad between his legs and his hands clenched. Ili.^
nigtail whipped in the air; he made a grab at tlie
:)oatswaiii's legs, and from his opened hand a bripjit
A'hite disc rolled against the boatswain's foot. He
■ccogniscd a silver dollar, and yelled at it with astonish-^
ncnt. With a precipitated sound of tiampling and
jluiftling of bare feet, and with guttural cries, the
nound of writhing bodies piled up to port dLl.iched
itself from the ship's side and shifted to starboard,
sliding, inert and struggling, to a dull, brutal thump.
The cries ceased. The boatswain heard a long moan
through the roar and whistling of the wind ; he saw
an inextricable confusion of heads and shoulders,
aaked soles kicking upwards, fists raised, tumbling
backs, legs, pigtails, faces.
" Good Lord ! " he cried, horrified, and banged-to the
iron door upon this vision.
This was what he had come on the bridge to tell.
He couki not keep it to himself; and on board ship
there is only one man to whom it is worth while to
unburden yourself. On his passage back the hands in
the alleyway swore at him for a fool. Why didn't he
bring that lamp ? What the devil did the coolies matter
to anybody ? And when he came out, the extremity of
the ship made what went on inside of her appear of
At rst he thought he had left the alleyway in the
very moment of her sinking. The bridge ladders had
been washed away, but an enormous sea filling the
after-deck floated him up. After that he had to lie on
his stomach for some time, holding to a ring-bolt, getting
his breath now and then, and swallowing salt water.
He struggled farther on his hands and knees, too
frightened and distracted to turn back. In this way
he reached the after-part of the wheelhouse. In that
comparatively sheltered spot he found the second mate.
The boatswain was pleasantly surprised — his impression
being that everybody on deck must have been washed
away a long time ago. He asked eagerly where the
The second mate was lying low, like a malignant
little animal under a hedge.
" Captain ? Gone overboard, after getting us into this
mess." The mate, too, for all he knew or cared. Another
fool. Didn't matter. Everybody was going by-and-by.
The boatswain crawled out again into the strength of
the wind ; not because he much expected to find any-
body, he said, but just to get away from " that man."
He crawled out as outcasts go to face an inclement
world. Hence his great joy at finding Jukes and the
Captain. But what was going on in the 'tween-deck
was to him a minor matter by that time. Besides, it
was difficult to make yourself heard. But he managed
to convey the idea that the Chinamen had broken
adrift together with their boxes, and that he had come
up on purpose to report this. As to the hands, they
were all right. Then, appeased, he subsided on the
leek in a sitting posture, hugging with his arms and
i jgs the stand of the engine-room telegraph — an iron
asting as thick as a post. When that went, why, he
expected he would go too. He gave no more thought
to the coohes.
Captain MacWhirr had made Jukes understand that
he wanted him to go down below — to see.
" What am I to do then, sir ? " And the trembling of
his whole wet body caused Jukes' voice to sound like
"See first . . . Boss'n . . . says . . . adrift."
"That boss'n is a confounded fool," howled Jukes
The absurdity of the demand made upon him revolted
Jukes. He was as unwilling to go as if the moment he
had left the deck the ship were sure to sink.
" I must know . . . can't leave . . ."
" They'll settle, sir."
" Fight . . . boss'n says they fight. , , , Why ?
Can't have . . . fighting . . . board ship. . . . Much
rather keep you here . . . case ... I should . . .
washed overboard m3^self. . . . Stop it . , . some way.
You see and tell me . . . through engine-room tube.
Don't want you . r . come up here . . . too often.
Dangerous . . . moving about . . . deck."
Jukes, held with his head in chancery, had to listen
to what seemed horrible suggestions.
" Don't want . . . you get lost ... so long . . .
ship isn't. . . . Rout . . . Good man . . . Ship . . .
may . . . through this ... all right yet."
All at once Jukes understood he would have to go.
" Do you think she may?" he screamed.
But the wind devoured the repl}', out of which Jukes
heard only the one word, pronounced with great energy
"... Always . . ."
Captain Mac Whirr released Jukes, and bending over
the boatswain, yelled " Get back with the mate." Jukes
only knew that the arm was gone ofF his shoulders. He
was dismissed with his orders — to do what ? He was
exasperated into letting go his hold carelessly, and on
the instant was blown away. It seemed to him that
nothing could stop him from being blown right over the
stern. He flung himself down hastily, and the boat-
swain, who was following, fell on him.
" Don't you get up yei, sir," cried the boatswain.
" No hurry 1 "
A sea swept over. Jukes understood the boatswain
to splutter that the bridge ladders were gone. " I'll
lover you down, sir, by your hands," he screamed.
He shouted also something about the smoke-stack
being as likely to go overboard as not. Jukes thought
it very possible, and imagined the fires out, the ship
helpless. . . . The boatswain by his side kept on
yehing. "What? What is it?" Jukes cried dis-
tressfully ; and the other repeated, " What would my
old woman say if she saw me now ? "
In the alleyway, where a lot of water had got in and
splashed in the dark, the men were still as death, till
Jukes stumbled against one of them and cursed him
savagely for being in the way. Two or three voices
then asked, eag^r and weak, "Any chance for us,
" What's the matter with you fools ? " he said
brutally. He felt as though he could throw himself
down amongst them and never move any more. But
tliey seemed cheered; and in the midst of obsequious
warnings, " Look out ! Mind that manhole Hd, sir,"
they lowered him into the bunker. The boatswain
tumbled down after him, and as soon as he had picked
liimself up he remarked, " She would say, * Serve you
right, you old fool, for going to sea.'"
The boatswain had some means, and made a point
of alludin-- to them frequently. His wife — a fat woman
— and two grown-up daughters kept a greengrocer's
shop in the East-end of London.
In the dark, Jukes, unsteady on his legs, listened to
a faint thunderous patter. A deadened screaming went
on steadily at his elbow, as it were ; and from above
the louder tumult of the storm descended upon these
near sounds. His head swam. To him, too, in that
bunker, the motion of the ship seemed novel and
menacing, sapping his resolution as though he had
never been afloat before.
He had half a mind to scramble out again ; but the
remembrance of Captain MacWhirr's voice made this^
impossible. His orders were to go and see. What
was the good of it, he wanted to know. Enraged, he
told himself he would see — of course. But the boat-
swain, staggering clumsily, warned him to be careful
how he opened that door ; there was a blamed fight
going on. And Jukes, as if in great bodily pain,
desired irritably to know what the devil they were
" Dollars ! Dollars, sir. All their rotten chests got
burst open. Blamed money skipping all over the place,
and they are tumbling after it head over heels — tearing
and biting like anj^thing. A regular little hell in
Jukes convulsively opened the door. The short
boatswain peered under his arm.
One of the lamps had gone out, broken perhaps.
Rancorous, guttural cries burst out loudly on their
ears, and a strange panting sound, the working of all
these straining breasts. A hard blow hit the side of the
ship : water fell above with a stunning shock, and in
the forefront of the gloom, where the air was reddish
and thick. Jukes saw a head bang the deck violently,
two thick calves waving on high, muscular arms twined
round a naked body, a yellow-face, open-mouthed and
with a set wild stare, look up and slide away. An empty
chest clattered turning over ; a man fell head first with
a jump, as if lifted by a kick ; and farther off, indis-
tinct, others streamed like a mass of rolling stones
down a bank, thumping the deck with their feet and
flourishing their arms wildly. The hatchway ladder
was loaded with coolies swarming on it like bees on a
branch. They hung on the steps in a crawling, stirring
cluster, beating madly with their fists the underside of
the battened hatch, and the headlong rush of the water
above was heard in the intervals of their yelling. The
ship heeled over more, and they began to drop off:
first one, then two, then all the rest went away together,
falling straight off with a great cry.
Jukes was confounded. The boatswain, with gruff
anxiety, begged him, " Don't you go in there, sir."
The whole place seemed to twist upon itself, jumping
incessantly the while ; and when the ship rose to a sea
Jukes fancied that all these men would be shot upon
him in a body. He backed out, swung the door to,
and with trembling hands pushed at the bolt. . . .
As soon as his mate had gone Captain MacWhirr,
left alone on the bridge, sidled and staggered as far as
the wheel-house. Its door being hinged forward, he
had to fight the gale for admittance, and when at last he
managed to enter, it was with an instantaneous clatter
and a bang, as though he had been fired through the
wood. He stood within, holding on to the handle.
The steering-gear leaked steam, and in the confined
space the glass of the binnacle made a shiny oval of
light in a thin white fog. The wind howled, hummed,
whistled, with sudden booming gusts that rattled the
doors and shutters in the vicious patter of sprays.
Two coils of lead-line and a small canvas bag hung on
a long lanyard, swung wide off, and came back clinging
to the bulkheads. The gratings underfoot were nearly
afloat; with every sweeping blow of a sea, water
squirted violently through the cracks all round the
door, and the man at the helm had flung down his cap,
his coat, and stood propped against the gear-casing in
a stripped cotton shirt open on his breast. The little
brass wheel in his hands had the appearance of a bright
and fragile toy. The cords of his neck stood hard and
lean, a dark patch lay in the hollow of his throat, and
his face was still and sunken as in death.
Captain MacWhirr wiped his eyes. The sea that
had nearly taken him overboard had, to his great
annoyance, washed his sou'-wester hat off his bald head.
The fluffy, fair hair, soaked and darkened, resembled a
mean skein of cotton threads festooned round his bare
skull. His face, glistening with sea-water, had been
made crimson with the wind, with the sting of sprays.
He looked as though he had come off sweating from
before a furnace.
" You here ? " he muttered heavily.
The second mate had found his way into the wheel-
house some time before. He had fixed himself in a
corner with his knees up, a fist pressed against each
temple; and this attitude suggested rage, sorrow,
resignation, surrender, with a sort of concentrated un-
forgiveness. He said mournfully and defiantly, "Well,
it's my watch below now : ain't it ? "
The steam 'gear clattered, stopped, clattered again ;
and the helmsman's eyeballs seemed to project out of a
hungry face as if the compass card behind the binnacle
glass had been meat. God knows how long he had been
left there to steer, as if forgotten by all his shipmates.
The bells had not been struck ; there had been no
reliefs; the ship's routine had gone downwind; but
he was trying to keep her head north-north-east. The
rudder might have been gone for all he knew, the fires
out, the engines broken down, the ship ready to roll
over like a corpse. He was anxious not to get muddled
and lose control of her head, because the compass-card
swung far both ways, wriggling on the pivot, and
sometimes seemed to whirl right round. He suffered
from mental stress. He was horribly afraid, also, of
the wheelhouse going. Mountains of water kept on
tumbling against it. When the ship took one of her
desperate dives the corners of his lips twitched.
Captain MacWhirr looked up at the wheelhouse
clock. Screwed to the bulk-head, it had a white face
on which the black hands appeared to stand quite still.
It was half-past one in the morning.
*' Another day," he muttered to himself.
The second mate heard him, and lifting his head as
one grieving amongst ruins, "You won't see it break,"
he exclaimed. His wrists and his knees could be seen
to shake violently. " No, by God I You won't . , ."
He took his face again between his fists.
The body of the helmsman had moved slightly, but
his head didn't budge on his neck, — like a stone head
fixed to look one way from a column. During a roll
that all but took his booted legs from under him, and
in the very stagger to save himself, Captain Mac-
Whirr said austerely, "Don't you pay any attention
to what that man says." And then, with an indefinable
change of tone, very grave, he added, " He isn't on
The sailor said nothing.
The hurricane boomed, shaking the little place,
which seemed air-tight ; and the light of the binnacle
flickered all the time.
" You haven't been relieved," Captain MacWhirr
went on, looking down. " I want you to stick to the
helm, though, as long as you can. You've got the hang
of her. Another man coming here might make a mess
of it. Wouldn't do. No child's play. And the hands are
probably busy with a job down below. . . . Think you
can ? "
The steering gear leaped into an abrupt short clatter,
stopped smouldering like an ember ; and the still man,
with a motionless gaze, burst out, as if all the passion
in him had gone into his lips : " By Heavens, sir I I
can steer for ever if nobody talks to me."
" Oh ! aye ! All right, . . ." The Captain lifted his
eyes for the first time to the man, "... Hackett."
And he seemed to dismiss this matter from his mind.
He stooped to the engine-room speaking-tube, blew in,
and bent his head. Mr. Rout below answered, and at
once Captain MacWhirr put his lips to the mouthpiece.
With the uproar of the gale around him he applied
alternately his lips and his ear, and the engineer's voice
mounted to him, harsh and as if out of the heat of an
engagement. One of the stokers was disabled, the
others had given in, the second engineer and the
donkey-man were firing-up. The third engineer was
standing by the steam-valve. The engines were being
tended by hand. How was it above ?
" Bad enough. It mostly rests with you," said Cap-
tain MacWhirr. Was the mate down there yet ? No ?
Well, he would be presently. Would Mr. Rout let him
talk through the speaking-tube ? — through the deck
speaking-tube, because he — the Captain — was going
out again on the bridge directly. There was some
trouble amongst the Chinamen. They were fighting,
it seemed. Couldn't allow fighting anyhow. . . .
Mr. Rout had gone away, and Captain MacWhirr
could feel against his ear the pulsation of the engines,
like the beat of the ship's heart. Mr. Rout's voice
down there shouted something distantly. The ship
pitched headlong, the pulsation leaped with a hissing
tumult, and stopped dead. Captain MacWhirr's face
was impassive, and his eyes were fixed aimlessly on
the crouching shape of the second mate. Again Mr.
Rout's voice cried out in the depths, and the pulsating
beats recommenced, with slow strokes — growing
Mr. Rout had returned to the tube. " It don't matter
much what they do," he said hastily ; and then, with
irritation, " She takes these dives as if she never meant
to come up again."
" Awful sea," said the Captain's voice from above.
" Don't let me drive her under," barked Solomon
Rout up the pipe.
" Dark and rain. Can't see what's coming," uttered
the voice. " Must — keep — her — moving — enough to
steer — and chance it," it went on to state distinctly.
" I am doing as much as I dare."
•' We arc — getting — smashed up — a good deal up
here," proceeded the voice mildly. " Doing — fairly
well — tho'igh. Of course, if the wheelhouse should
go . . .
Mr. Rout, bending an attentive ear, muttered peev-
ishly something under his breath.
But the deliberate voice up tijere became animated
to ask : " Jukes turned up yet ? " Then, after a short
wait, "I wish he would bear a hand. I want him to be
done and come up here in caie oi" anything. To look
after the ship. I am all alone. The second mate's
lost. . . ."
" What ? " shouted Mr. Rout into the engine-room,
taking his head aAvay. Then up the tube he cried,
" Gone overboard ? " and clapped his ear to.
"Lost his nerve," the voice from above continued
in a matter-of-fact tone. " Damned awkward circum-
Mr, Rout, listening with bowed neck, opened his eyes
wide at tliis. However, he heard something like the
sounds of a scuffle and broken exclamations coming
down to him. He strained his hearing; and all the
time Beale, the third engineer, with his arms uplifted,
held between the palms of his hands the rim of a little
black wheel projecting at the side of a big copper pip2.
He seemed to be poising it above his head, as though
it were a correct attitude in some sort of game.
To steady himself, he pres^sed his shoulder against
the white bulkhead, one knee bent, and a sweat-rag
tacked in his belt hanging on his hip. His smooth
cheek was begrimed and flushed, and the coal dust on
his eyelids, like the black pencilling of a make-up,
enhanced the liquid brilliance of the whites, giving to
his youthful face something: of a feminine, exotic and
fascinating aspect. When the siiip pitched he would
with hasty movements of his hands screw hard at the
** Gone crazy," began the Captain's voice suddenly io
the tube. " Rushed at me. . . . Just now. Had to knock
him down. . . . This minute. You heard, Mr. Rout ? "
" The devil ! " muttered Mr. Rout. " Look out,
His shout rang out Hke the blast of a warning
trumpet, between the iron walls of the enrrine-room.
Painted white, they rose high into the dusk of the sky-
light, sloping like a roof; and the whole lofty space re-
sembled the interior of a monument, divided by floors of
iron grating, with lights flickering at different levels, and
a mass ot gloom lingering in the middle, within the col-
umnar stir of machinery under the motionless swelHng of
the cylinders. A loud and wild resonance, made up of all
the noises of the hurricane, dwelt in the still warmth of
the air. There was in it the smell of hot metal, of oil,
and a slight mist of steam. The blows of the sea
seemed to traverse it in an unringing, stunning shock,
from side to side.
Gleams, like pale long flames, trembled upon the
polish of metal ; from the flooring below the enormous
crank-heads emerged in their turns with a flash of
brass and steel — gjingovcr; while the connecting-rods,
big-jointed, like skeleton limbs, seemed to thrust thcra
down and pull them up again with an irresistible pre-
cision. And deep in the half-light other rods dodged
deliberately to and fro, crosshcads nodded, discs of
metal rubbed smoothly against each other, slow and
gentle, in a commingling of shadows and gleams.
Sometimes all those powerful and unerring move-
ments would slow down simultaneously, as if they
had been the functions of a living organism, stricken
suddenly by the blight of languor; and Mr. Rout's
eyes would blaze darker in his long sallow face.
He was fighting this fight in a pair of carpet slippers.
A short shiny jacket barely covered his loins, and his
white wrists protruded far out of the tight sleeves, as
though the emergency had added to his stature, had
lengthened his limbs, augmented his pallor, hollowed
He moved, climbing high up, disappearing low down,
with a restless, purposeful industry, and when he stood
still, holding the guard-rail in front of the starting-gear,
he would keep glancing to the right at the steam-gauge,
at the water-gauge, fixed upon the white wall in the
light of a swaying lamp. The mouths of two speaking-
tubes gaped stupidly at his elbow, and the dial of the
engine-room telegraph resembled a clock of large dia-
meter, bearing on its face curt words instead of figures.
The grouped letters stood out heavily black, around
the pivot-head of the indicator, emphatically symbolic
of loud exclamations : Ahead, Astern, Slow, Half,
Stand by ; and the fat black hand pointed downwards
to the word Full, which, thus singled out, captured
the eye as a sharp cry secures attention.
The wood-encased bulk of the low-pressure cylinder,
frowning portly from above, emitted a faint wheeze
at every thrust, and except for that low hiss the engines
worked their steel limbs headlong or slow with a silent,
determined smoothness. And all this, the white walls,
the moving steel, the floor plates under Solomon
Rout's feet, the floors of iron grating above his head,
the dusk and the gleams, uprose and sank continuously,
with one accord, upon the harsh wash of the waves
against the ship's side. The whole loftiness of the
place, booming hollow to the great voice of the wind,
swayed at the top like a tree, would go over bodily, as if
borne down this way and that by the tremendous blasts.
"You've got to hurry up," shouted Mr. Rout, as
soon as he saw Jukes appear in the stokehold doorway.
Jukes' glance was wandering and tipsy ; his red face
was puffy, as though he had overslept himself He
had had an arduous road, and had travelled over it with
immense vivacity, the agitation of his mind corre-
sponding to the exertions of his body. He had rushed
up out of the bunker, stumbling in the dark alleyway
amongst a lot of bewildered men who, trod upon,
asked "What's up, sir?" in awed mutters all round
him ; — down the stokehold ladder, missing many iron
rungs in his hurry, down into a place deep as a well,
black as Tophet, tipping over back and forth like a
see-saw. The water in the bilges thundered at each
roll, and lumps of coal skipped to and fro, from end to
end, rattling like an avalanche of pebbles on a slope of
Somebody in there moaned with pain, and somebody
else could be seen crouching over what seemed the prone
body of a dead man ; a lusty voice blasphemed ; and
the glow under each fire-door was like a pool of flaming
blood radiating quietly in a velvety blackness.
A gust of wind struck upon the nape of Jukes' neck
and next moment he felt it streaming about his wet ankles.
The stokehold ventilators hummed : in front of the six
fire-doors two wild figures, stripped to the waist, stag*
gered and stooped, wrestling with two shovels.
" Hallo ! Plenty of draught now," yelled the second
engineer at once, as though he had been all the time
looking out for Jukes. The donkeyman, a dapper little
chap with a dazzling fair skin and a tiny, gingery
moustache, worked in a sort of mute transport. They
were keeping a full head of steam, and a profound
rumbling, as of an empty furniture van trotting over a
bridge, made a sustained bass to all the other noises of
" Blowing off all the time," went on yelling the
second. With a sound as of a hundred scoured sauce-
pans, the orifice of a ventilator spat upon his shoulder
a sudden gush of salt v/ater, and he volleyed a stream
of curses upon all things on earth including his own
soul, ripping and raving, and all the time attending to
his business. With a sharp clash of metal the ardent
pale glare of the fire opened upon his bullet head,
showing his spluttering lips, his insolent face, and with
another clang closed like the white-hot wink of an iron eye.
"Where's the blooming ship? Can you tell me?
blast my eyes 1 Under water — or what ? It's coming
down here in tons. Are the condemned cowls gone to
Hades ? Hey ? Don't you know anything — you J0II3'
sailor-man you . . . ? "
Jukes, after a bewildered moment, had been helped
by a roll to dart through ; and as soon as his eyes took
in the comparative vastness, peace and brilliance of the
engine-room, the ship, setting her stern heavily in the
water, sent him charging head down upon Mr. Rout.
The chief's arm, long like a tentacle, and straighten-
ing as if worked by a spring, went out to meet him,
and deflected his rush into a spin towards the speaking-
tubes. At the same time Mr. Rout repeated earnestly :
" You've got to hurry up, whatever it is."
Jukes yelled "Are you there, sir?" and listened.
Nothing. Suddenly the roar of the wind fell straight
into his ear, but presently a small voice shoved aside
the shouting hurricane quietly.
"You, Jukes?— Well?"
Jukes was ready to talk: it was only time that
seemed to be wanting. It was easy enough to account
for everything. He could perfectly imagine the coolies
battened down in the reeking 'tween-deck, lying sick
and scared between the rows of chests. Then one of
these chests — or perhaps several at once — breaking
loose in a roll, knocking out others, sides splitting, lids
flying open, and all these clumsy Chinamen rising up
in a body to save their property. Afterwards every
fling of the ship would hurl that tramping, yelling mob
here and there, from side to side, in a whirl of smashed
wood, torn clothing, rolling dollars. A struggle once
started, they would be unable to stop themselves.
Nothing could stop them now except main force. It
was a disaster. He had seen it, and that was all he
could say. Some of them must be dead, he believed.
The rest would go on fighting. . . .
He sent up his words, tripping over each other,
crowding the narrow tube. They mounted as if into a
silence of an enlightened comprehension dwelling alone
up there with a storm. And Jukes wanted to be dis-
missed from the face of that odious trouble intruding
on the great need of the ship.
He waited. Before his eyes the engines turned with
slov/ labour, that in the moment of going off into a
mad fling would stop dead at Mr. Rout's shout,
" Look out, Beale ! " They paused in an intelligent
immobility, stilled in mid -stroke, a heavy crank arrested
on the cant, as if conscious of danger and the passage
of time. Then, with a " Now, then ! " from the chief,
and the sound of a breath expelled through clenched
teeth, they would accomplish the interrupted revolution
and begin another.
There was the prudent sagacity of wisdom and the
deliberation of enormous strength in their movements.
This was their work — this patient coaxing of a dis-
tracted ship over the fury of the waves and into the
very eye of the wind. At times Mr. Rout's chin would
sink on his breast, and he watched them with knitted
eyebrows as if lost in thought.
The voice that kept the hurricane out of Jukes' ear
began : " Take the hands with you . . . ," and left off
" What could I do with them, sir ? "
A harsh, abrupt, imperious clang exploded suddenly.
The three pairs of eyes flew up to the telegraph dial to
see the hand jump from Full to Stop, as if snatched
by a devil. And then these three men in the engiue-
room had the intimate sensation of a check upon the
ship, of a strange shrinking, as if she had gathered
herself for a desperate leap. ^
" Stop her ! " bellowed Mr. Rout.
Nobody — not even Captain MacWhirr, who alone
on deck had caught sight of a white hne of foam
coming on at such a height that he couldn't believe his
eyes — nobody was to know the steepness of that sea
and the awful depth of the hollow the hurricane had
scooped out behind the running wall of water.
It raced to meet the ship, and, with a pause, as of
girding the loins, the Nan-Shan lifted her bows and
leaped. The flames in all the lamps sank, darkening
the engine-room. One went out. With a tearing
crash and a swirling, raving tumult, tons of water fell
upon the deck, as though the ship had darted under
the foot of a cataract.
Down there they looked at each other, stunned.
" Swept from end to end, by God ! " bawled Jukes.
She dipped into the hollow straight down, as if going
over the edge of the world. The engine-room toppled
forward menacingly, like the inside of a tower nodding
in an earthquake. An awful racket, of iron things fall-
ing, came from the stokehold. She hung on this
appalling slant long enough for Beale to drop on his
hands and knees and begin to crawl as if he meant to
fly on all fours out of the engine-rcojii, and for Mr.
Rout to turn his head slowly, rigid, cavernous, with the
lower jaw dropping. Jukes had shut his eyes, and his
face in a moment became hopelessly blank and gentle,
like the face of a blind man.
At last she rose slowly, staggering, as if she had to
lift a mountain with her bows.
Mr. Rout shut his mouth ; Jukes blinked ; and little
Beale stood up hastily.
"Another one like this, and that's the last of her,"
cried the chief.
He and Jukes looked at each other, and the same
t' ought came into their heads. The Captain ! Every-
thing must have been swept away. Steering gear gone
— ship like a log. All over directly.
" Rush ! " ejaculated Mr. Rout thickly, glaring with
enlarged, doubtful eyes at Jukes, who answered him
by an irresolute glance.
The clang of the telegraph gong soothed them in-
stantly. The black hand dropped in a flash from Stop
" Now then, Beale ! " cried Mr. Rout.
The steam hissed low. The piston-rods slid in and
out. Jukes put his ear to the tube. The voice was
ready for him. It said : " Pick up all the money. Bear
a hand now. I'll want you up here." And that was all.
" Sir ? " called up Jukes. There was no answer.
He staggered away like a defeated man from the field
of battle. He had got, in some way or other, a cut
above his left eyebrow — a cut to the bone, tie was not
aware of it in the least : quantities of the China Sea,
large enough to break his neck for him, had gone over
his head, had cleaned, washed, and salted that wound.
It did not bleed, but only g'ped red ; and this gash
o\ er the e3'e, his dishevelled hair, the disorder of his
cljlhes, gave him the aspect of a man worsted in a fight
" Got to pick up the dollars." He appealed to Mr.
Rout, smiling pitifully at random.
«• What's that ? " asked Mr. Rout wildly. " Pick up
. . . ? I don't care. ..." Then, quivering in every
muscle, but with an exaggeration of paternal tone, "Go
away now, for God's sake. You deck people '11 drive
me silly. There's that second mate been going for the
old man. Don't you knov/ ? You fellows are going
wrong for want of something to do. . . ."
At these words Jukes discovered in himself the
beginnings of anger. Want of something to do — in-
deed. . . . Full of hot scorn against the chief, he
turned to go the way he had come. In the stoke-
hold the plump donkeyman toiled with his shovel
mutely, as if his tongue had been cut out ; but the
second was carrying on like a noisy, undaunted maniac,
who had preserved his skill in the art of stoking under'
a marine boiler.
" Hallo, you wandering officer ! Hey I Can't 3'ou
get some of your slush-slingers to wind up a few of
them ashes ? I am getting choked with them here.
Curse it ! Hallo 1 Hey 1 Remember the articles :
Sailors and firemen to assist each other. Hey ! D'ye
hear ? "
Jukes was climbing out frantically, and the other,
lifting up his face after him, howled, " Can't you
speak ? What are you poking about here for ? What's
your game, anyhow ? "
A frenzy possessed Jukes. By the time he was back
amongst the men in the darkness of the alleyway, he
felt ready to wring all their necks at the slightest si'th
of hanging back. The very thought of it exasperated
him. //? couldn't hang back. They shouldn't.
The impetuosity with which he came amongst them
carried them along. They had already been excited
and startled at all his comings and goings — by the
fierceness and rapidity of his movements ; and more
felt than seen in his rushes, he appeared formidable —
bvisied with matters of life and death that brooked no
delay. At his first word he heard them drop into the
bunker one after another obediently, with heavy
They were not clear as to what would have to be
done. ** What is it ? What is it ? " they were asking
each other. The boatswain tried to explain ; the
sounds of a great scuffle surprised them : and the
mighty shocks, reverberating awfully in the black
bunker, kept them in mind of their danger. When the
boatswain threw open the door it seemed that an eddy
of the hurricane, stealing through the iron sides of
the ship, had set all these bodies whirling like dust :
there came to them a confused uproar, a tempestuous
tumult, a fierce mutter, gusts of screams dying away,
and the tramping of feet mingling with the blows of the
For a moment they glared amazed, blocking the
doorway. Jukes pushed through them brutally. He
said nothing, and simply darted in. Another lot of
coolies on the ladder, struggling suicidally to break
through the battened hatch to a swamped deck, fell off
as before, and he disappeared under them like a man
overtaken by a landslide.
The boatswain yelled excitedly : " Come along. Get
the mate out. He'll be trampled to death. Come on."
They charged in, stamping on breasts, on fingers, on
faces, catching their feet in heaps of clothing, kicking
broken wood ; but before they could get hold of him
Jukes emerged waist deep in a multitude of clawing
hands. In the instant he had been lost to view, all the
buttons of his jacket had gone, its back had got split up
to the collar, his v aistcoat had been torn open. The
central strugghng mass of Chinamen went over to the
roll, dark, indistinct, helpless, with a wild gleam of
many eyes in the dim light of the lamps.
"Leave me alone — damn you. I 2.m all right,'*
screeched Jukes. "Drive them forward. Watch your
chance when she pitches. Forward with 'em. Drive
them against the bulkhead. Jam 'em up."
The rush of the sailors into the seething 'tween-
deck was like a splash of cold water into a boiling
cauldron. The comm tion sank for a moment.
The bulk of Chinamen were locked in such a com-
pact scrimmage that, linking their arms and aided by
an appalling dive of the ship, the seamen sent it forward
in one great shove, like a solid block. Behind their
backs small clusters and loose bodies tumbled from
side to side.
The boatswain performed prodigious feats of strength.
With his long arms open, and each great paw clutching
at a stanchion, he stopped the rush of seven entwined
Chinamen rolling like a boulder. His joints cracked ;
he said, *' Ha ! " and they flew apart. But the carpenter
showed the greater intelligence Without saying a
word to anybody he went back into the alleyway,
to fetch several coils of cargo gear he had seen there —
chain and rope. With these life-liies were rigged.
There was really no resistance. The struggle, how-
ever it began, had turned into a scramble of blind panic.
If the coolies had started up Tcfter their scattered dollars
they were by that thne fighting only for their footing
They took each other by the throat merely to save
themselves from being hurled about. Whoever got a
hold anywhere would kick at the others who caught
at his legs and hung on, till a roll sent them flying
together across the deck.
The coming of the white devils was a terror. Had
they come to kill? The individuals torn out of the
ruck became very limp in the seamen's hands : some,
dragged aside by the heels, were passive, like dead
bodies, with open, fixed eyes. Here and there a coolie
would fail on his knees as if begging for mercy;
several, whom the excess of fear made unruly, were
hit with hard fists between the eyes, and cowered ;
while those v.'ho were hurt submitted to rough handling,
blinking rapidly without a plaint. Faces streamed with
blood ; there were raw places on the shaven heads,
scratches, bruises, torn wounds, gashes. The broken
porcelain out of the chests was mostly responsible for
the latter. Here and there a Chinaman, wild-eyed, with
his tail unplaited, nursed a bleeding sole.
They had been ranged closely, after having been
shaken into submission, cuffed a little to allay excite-
ment, addressed in gruff words of encouragement that
sounded like promises of evil. They sat on the deck
in ghastly, drooping rows, and at the end the carpenter,
with two hands to help him, moved busily from place
to place, setting taut and hitching the life-lines. The
boatswain, with one leg and one arm embracing a
stanchion, struggled with a lamp pressed to his breast,
trying to get a light, and growhng all the time hke an
industrious gorilla. The figures of seamen stooped
repeatedly, with the movements of gleaners, and every-
thing was being flung into the bunker: clothing,
smashed wood, broken china, and the dollars too,
gathered up in men's jackets. Now and then a sailor
would stagger towards the door^vay with his arms full
of rubbish ; and dolorous, slanting eyes followed his
With every roll of the ship the long rows of sitting
Celestials would sway forward brokenly, and her head-
long dives knocked together the line of shaven polls
from end to end. When the wash of water rolling on
the deck died away for a moment, it seemed to Jukes,
yet quivering from his exertions, that in liis mad
struggle down there he had overcome the wind some-
how: that a silence had fallen upon the ship, a silence
in which the sea struck thunderously at her sides.
Everything had been cleared out of the 'tween-deck
— all the wreckage, as the men said. They stood erect
and tottering above the level of heads and drooping
shoulders. Here and there a coolie sobbed for his
breath. Where the high light fell, Jukes could see the
salient ribs of one, the yellow, wistful face of another ;
bowed necks ; or would meet a dull stare directed at
his face. He was amazed that there had been no
corpses ; but the lot of them seemed at their last gasp,
and they appeared to him more pitiful than if they had
been all dead.
Suddenly one of the coolies began to speak. The
light came and went on his lean, straining face ; he
threw his head up like a baying hound. From the
bunker came the sounds of knocking and the tinkle of
some dollars rolling loose ; he stretched out his arm^
his mouth yawned black, and the incomprehensible
guttural hooting sounds, that did not seem to belong to
a human language, penetrated Jukes with a strange
emotion as if a brute had tried to be eloquent.
Two more started mouthing what seemed to Jukes
fierce denunciations ; the others stirred with grunts and
growls. Jukes ordered the hands out of the 'tween-
decks hurriedly. He left last himself, backing through
the door, while the grunts rose to a loud murmur and
hands were extended after him as after a malefactor.
The boatswain shot the bolt, and remarked uneasily,
" Seems as if the wind had dropped, sir."
The seamen were glad to get back into the alleyway.
Secretly each of them thought that at the last moment
he could rush out on deck — and that was a comfort.
There is something horribly repugnant in the idea of
being drowned under a deck. Now they had done with
the Chinamen, they again became conscious of the ship's
Jukes on coming out of the alleyway found himself
up to the necM in the noisy water. He gained the
bridge, and discovered he could detect obscure shapes
as if his sight had become preternaturally acute. He
saw faint outlines. They recalled not the familiar
aspect of the Nan-Shan, but something remembered —
an old dismantled steamer he had seen years ago
rotting on a mudbank. She recalled that wreciv.
There was no wind, not a breath, except the faint
currents created by the lurches of the ship. The
smoke tossed out of the funnel was settling down upon
her deck. He breathed it as he passed forward. He
felt the deliberate throb of the engines, and heard small
sounds that seemed to have survived the great uproar :
the knocking of broken fittings, the rapid tumbling of
some piece of wreckage on the bridge. He perceived
dimly the squat shape of his captain holding on to a
twisted bridge-rail, motionless and swaying as if rooted
to the planks. The unexpected stillness of the air
" We have done it, sir," he gasped.
"Thought you would," said Captain MacWhirr.
" Did you ? " murmured Jukes to himself.
"Wind fell all at once," went on the Captain.
Jukes burst out: "If you think it was an easy
But his captain, clinging to the rail, paid no atten-
tion. " According to the books the worst is not over
" If most of them hadn't been half dead with sea-
sickness and fright, not one of us would have come out
of that 'tween-deck alive," said Jukes.
" Had to do what's fair by them," mumbled
MacWhirr stolidly. " You don't find everything in
"Why, I believe they would have risen on us if I
hadn't ordered the hands out of that pretty quick,"
continued Jukes with warmth.
After the whisper of their shouts, their ordinary
tones, so distinct, rang out very loud to their ears in
the amazing stillness of the air. It seemed to them
they were talking in a dark and echoing vault.
Through a jagged aperture in the dome of clouds the
light of a few stars fell upon the black sea, rising and
falling confusedly. Sometimes the head of a watery
cone would topple on board and mingle with the rolling
flurry of foam on the swamped deck ; and the Nan-
Shan wallowed heavily at the bottom of a circular
cistern of clouds. This ring of dense vapours, gyrating
madly round the calm of the centre, encompassed the
ship like a motionless and unbroken wall of an
aspect inconceivably sinister. Within, the sea, as if
agitated by an internal commotion, leaped in peaked
mounds that jostled each other, slapping heavily against
her sides ; and a low moaning sound, the infinite plaint
of the storm's fury, came from be3'ond the limits of the
menacing calm. Captain MacWhirr remained silent,
and Jukes' ready ear caught suddenly the faint, long-
drawn roar of some immense wave rushing unseen
under that thick blackness, which made the appalling
boundary of his vision.
" Of course," he started resentfully, " they thought
we had caught at the. chance to plunder them. Of
course ! You said — pick up the money. Easier said
than done. They couldn't tell what was in our heads.
We came in, smash — right into the middle of them.
Had to do it by a rush."
" As long as it's done . . . ," mumbled the Captain,
without attempting to look at Jukes. " Had to do
" We shall find yet there's the devil to pay when
this is over," said Jukes, feeling very sore. " Let
them only recover a bit, and you'll see. They will fly
at our throats, sir. Don't forget, sir, she isn't a British
ship now. These brutes know it well, too. The
damn'd Siamese flag."
"We are on board, all the same," remarked Captain
"The trouble's i.ot over yet," insisted Jukes pro-
phetically, reeling and catchinj on. " She's a wreck,"
he added faintly.
"The trouble's not over yet," assented Captain
MacWhirr, half aloud. ... *' Look out for her a
" Are you going off the deck, sir ? " asked Jukes
hurriedly, as if the storm were sure to pounce upon
him as soon as he had been left alone with the ship.
He watched her, battered and solitary, labouring heavily
in a wild scene of mountainous black waters lit by the
gleams of distant worlds. She moved slowly, breathing
into the still core of the hurricane the excess of her
strength in a white cloud of steam — and the deep-
toned vibration of the escape was like the defiant
trumpeting of a living creature of the sea impatient for
the renewal of the contest. It ceased suddenly. The
still air moaned. Above Jukes' head a few stars shone
into the pit of black vapours. The inky edge of the
cloud-disc frowned upon the ship under the patch of
glittering sky. The stars too seemed to look at her
intently, as if for the last time, and the cluster of their
splendour sat like a diadem on a lowering brow.
Captain MacWhirr had gone into the chart-room.
There was no hght there ; but he could feel the disorder
of that place where he used to live tidily. His armchair
was upset. The books had tumbled out on the floor:
he scrunched a piece of glass under his boot. He
groped for the matclics, and fouml a box on a shelf
with a deep ledge. He struck one, and puckering the
corners of his eyes, held out the little flame towards
the barometer whose glittering top of glass and metals
nodded at him continuously.
It stood very low — incredibly low, so low that Captain
MacWhirr grunted. The match went out, and hurriedly
he extracted another, with thick, stiff fingers.
Again a little flame flared up before the nodding glass
and metal of the top. His eyes looked at it, narrowed
with attention, as if expecting an imperceptible sign.
With his grave face he resembled a booted and mis-
shapen pagan burning incense before the oracle of a
Joss. There was no mistake. It was the lowest
reading he had ever seen in his life.
Captain MacWhirr emitted a low whistle. He forgot
himself till the flame diminished to a blue spark, burnt
his fingers and vanished. Perhaps something had gone
wrong with the thing !
There was an aneroid glass screwed above the couch.
He turned that way, struck another match, and dis-
covered the white face of the other instrument looking
at him from the bulkhead, meaningly, not to be gain-
said, as though the wisdom of men were made unerring
by the indifference of matter. There was no room for
doubt now. Captain MacWhirr pshawed at it, and
threw the match down.
The worst was to come, then — and if the books were
right this worst would be very bad. The experience of
the last six hours had enlarged his conception of what
heavy weather could be hke. " It'll be terrific," he
pronounced mentally. He had not consciously looked
at anything by the light of the matches except at the
barometer ; and yet somehow he had seen that his
water-bottle and the two tumblers had been flung out
of their stand. It seemed to give him a more intimate
knowledge of the tossing the ship had gone through.
" I wouldn't have believed it," he thought. And his
table had been cleared too ; his rulers, his pencils, the
inkstand — all the things that had their safe appointed
places — they were gone, as if a mischievous hand had
plucked them out one by one and flung them on the
wet floor. The hurricane had broken in upon the
orderly arrangements of his privacy. This had never
happened before, and the feeling of dismay reached the
very seat of his composure. And the worst was to
come yet! He was glad the trouble in the 'tween-
deck had been discovered in time. If the ship had to go
after all, then, at least, she wouldn't be going to the
bottom with a lot of people in her fighting teeth and
claw. That would have been odious. And in that
feeling there was a humane intention and a vague sense
of the fitness of things.
These instantaneous thoughts were yet in their
essence heavy and slow, partaking of the nature of the
I man. He extended his hand to put back the matchbox
in its corner of the shelf. There were always matches
there — by his order. The steward had his instructions
impressed upon him long before. "A box . . . just
there, see ? Not so very full . . . where I can put
my hand on it, steward. Might want a light in a hurry.
Can't tell on board ship what you might want in a
lurry. Mind, now."
And of course on his side he wouM be careful to put
t back in its place scrupulously. He did so now, but
)efore he removed his hand it occurred to him that
perhaps he would never have occasion to use that box
any more. The vividness of the thought checked him
and for an infinitesimal fraction of a second his fingers
closed again on the small object as though it had been
the symbol of all these little habits that chain us to the
weary round of life. He released it at last, and letting
himself fall on the settee, listened for the first sounds
of returning wind.
Not yet. He heard only the wash of water, the
heavy splashes, the dull shocks of the confused seas
boarding his ship from all sides. She v/ould never
have a chance to clear her decks.
But the quietude of the air was startlingly tense and
unsafe, like a slender hair holding a sword suspended
over his head. By this awful pause the storm pene-
trated the defences of the man and unsealed his lips.
He spoke out in the solitude and the pitch darkness of
the cabin, as if addressing another being awakened
within his breast.
" I shouldn't like to lose her," he said half aloud.
He sat unseen, apart from the sea, from his ship,
isolated, as if withdrawn from the very current of his
own existence, where such freaks as talking to himself
surely had no place. His palms reposed on his knees,
he bowed his short neck and puffed heavily, surrender-
ing to a strange sensation of weariness he was not
enlightened enough to recognise for the fatigue of
From where he sat he could reach the door of a
washstand locker. There should have been a towel
there. There was. Good. . . . He took it out, wiped
his face, and afterwards went on rubbing his wet head.
-t towelled himself with energy in the dark, and then
nained motionless with the towel on his knees. A
ment passed, of a stillness so profound that no one
uld have guessed there was a man sitting in that
bin. Then a murmur arose.
"She may come out of it yet."
When Captain MacWhirr came out on deck, which
lie did brusquely, as though he had suddenly become
iscious of having stayed away too long, the calm
1 lasted already more than fifteen minutes — long
.ugh to make itself intolerable even to his imagina-
1. Jukes, motionless on the forepart of the bridge,
'i^an to speak at once. His voice, blank and forced
1-; though he were talking through hard-set teeth,
med to flow away on all sides into the darkness,
pening again upon the sea.
" I had the wheel relieved. Hackett began to sing
I that he was doine. He's lying in there alongside
he steering gear with a face like death. At first I
wouldn't get anybody to crawl out and relieve the poor
levil. That boss'en's worse than no good, I always
aid. Thought I would have had to go myself and
laul out one of them by the neck."
"Ah, well," muttered the Captain. He stood watch-
ul by Jukes' side.
" The second mate's in there too, holding his head.
s he hurt, sir ?
" No — crazy," said Captain MacWhirr, curtly.
" Looks as if he had a tumble, though."
" I had to give him a push," explained the Captain.
Jukes gave an impatient sigh.
" It will come very sudden," said Captain MacWhirr,
" and from over there, I fancy. God only knows,
though. These books are only good to muddle your
head and make you jumpy. It will be bad, and there's
an end. If we only can steam her round in time to
meet it . . ."
A minute passed. Some of the stars winked rapidly
" You left them pretty safe ? " began the Captain
abruptly, as though the silence were unbearable.
** Are you thinking of the coolies, sir ? I rigged life-
lines all ways across that 'tween-deck."
" Did you ? Good idea, Mr. Jukes."
" I didn't . . . think you cared to . . . know," said
Jukes — the lurching of the ship cut his speech as
though somebody had been jerking him around while
he talked — "how I got on with . . . that infernal
job. We did it. And it may not matter in the
" Had to do what's fair, for all — they are only
Chinamen. Give them the same chance with ourselves
— hang it all. She isn't lost yet. Bad enough to be
shut up below in a gale "
" That's what I thought when you gave me the job,
sir," interjected Jukes moodily.
" without being battesfd to pieces," pursued
Captain MacWhirr with rising vehemence. "Couldn't
let that go on in my ship, if I knew she hadn't five
minutes to live. Couldn't bear it, Mr. Jukes."
A hollow echoing noise, like that of a shout rolling
in a rocky chasm, approached the ship and went away
again. The last star, blurred, enlarged, as if returning
to the fiery mist of its beginning, struggled with tlic
colossal depth of blackness hanging over the ship — and
" Now for it !" muttered Captain MacWhirr. " Mr.
" Here, sir."
The two men were growing indistinct to each
" We must trust her to go through it and come out
on the other side. That's plain and straight. There's
no room for Captain Wilson's storm-strategy here."
" No, sir."
"She will be smothered and swept again for hours,"
mumbled the Captain. "There's not much left by this
time above deck for the sea to take away — unless you
" Both, sir," whispered Jukes breathlessly.
" You are always meeting trouble half way, Jukes,"
Captain MacWhirr remonstrated quaintly. "Though
it's a fact that the second mate is no good. D'ye hear,
Mr. Jukes ? You would be left alone if . . ."
Captain MacWhirr interrupted himself, and Jukes,
glancing on all sides, remained silent.
" Don't you be put out by anything," the Captain con-
tinued, mumbling rather fast. " Keep her facing it.
They may say what they like, but the heaviest seas run
with the wind. Facing it — always facing it — that's the
way to get through. You are a young sailor. Face it.
That's enough for any man. Keep a cool head."
"Yes, sir," said Jukes, with a flutter of the heart.
In the next few seconds the Captain spoke to the
engine-room and got an answer.
For some reason Jukes experienceJ an access of con-
fidence, a sensation that came from outside like a warm
breath, and made him feel equal to every demand. The
distant muttering of the darkness stole into his ears.
He noted it unmoved, out of that sudden belief in
himself, as a man safe in a shirt of mail would v^^atch
The ship laboured without intermission amongst the
black hills of water, paying with this hard tumbling the
price of her life. She rumbled in her depths, shaking
a white plummet of steam into the night, and Jukes'
thought skimmed like a bird through the engine-room,
where Mr. Rout — good man — was ready. When the
rumbling ceased it seemed to him that there was a
pause of every sound, a dead pause in which Captain
MacWhirr's voice rang out startlingly.
"What's that? A pufF of wind ? " — it spoke much
louder than Jukes had ever heard it before — "On the
bow. That's right. She may come out of it yet."
The mutter of the winds drew near apace. In the
forefront could be distinguished a drowsy waking plaint
passing on, and far off the growth of a multiple
clamour, marching and expanding. There was the
throb as of many drums in it, a vicious rushing note,
and like the chant of a tramping multitude.
Jukes could no longer see his captain distinctly.
The darkness was absolutely piling itself upon the
ship. At most he made out movements, a hint of elbows
spread out, of a head thrown up.
Captain MacWhirr was trying to do up the top button
of his oilskin coat with unwonted haste. The hurri-
cane, with its power to madden the seas, to sink ships,
to uproot trees, to overturn strong walls and dash the
very birds of the air to the ground, had found this
taciturn man in its path, and, doing its utmost, had
managed to wring out a few words. Before the re-
newed wrath of winds swooped on his ship, Captain
MacWhirr was moved to declare, in a tone of vexation,
as it were : " I wouldn't like to lose her,"
He was spared that annoyance.
On a bright sunshiny day, with the breeze chasing
her smoke far ahead, the Nan-Shan came into Fu-chau.
Her arrival was at once noticed on shore, and the sea-
men in harbour said : " Look I Look at that steamer.
What's that ? Siamese — isn't she ? Just look at her ! "
She seemed, indeed, to have been used as a running
target for the secondary batteries of a cruiser. A hail
of minor shells could not have given her upper works a
more broken, torn, and devastated aspect : and she had
about her the worn, weary air of ships coming from the
far ends of the world — and indeed with truth, for in her
short passage she had been very far ; sighting, verily,
even the coast of the Great Beyond, whence no ship
ever returns to give up her crew to the dust of the
earth. She was incrusted and grey with salt to the
trucks of her masts and to the top of her funnel ; as
though (as some facetious seaman said) " the crowd on
board had fished her out somewhere from the bottom
of the sea and brought her in here for salvage." And
further, excited by the felicity of his own wit, he
offered to give five pounds for her — "as she stands."
Before she had been quite an hour at rest, a meagre
little man, with a red-tipped nose and a face cast in an
angry mould, landed from a sampan on the quay of the
Foreign Concession, and incontinently turned to shake
his fist at her.
A tall inaividual, with legs much too thin for a rotund
stomach, and with watery eyes, strolled up and re-
marked, " Just left her — eh ? Quick work."
He wore a soiled suit of blue flannel with a pair of
dirty cricketing shoes ; a dingy grey moustache
drooped from his lip, and daylight could be seen in two
places between the rim and the crown of his hat.
** Hallo ! what are you doing here ? " asked the
ex-second-mate of the Nan-Shany shaking hands
"Standing by for a job — chance worth taking — got a
quiet hint," explained the man with the broken hat, in
jerky, apathetic wheezes.
The second shook his fist again at the Nan-Shan.
" There's a fellow there that ain't fit to have the com-
mand of a scow," he declared, quivering with passion,
while the other looked about listlessl3\
" Is there ? "
But he caught sight on the quay of a heavy seaman's
chest, painted brown under a fringed sailcloth cover,
and lashed with new manila line. He eyed it with
" I would talk and raise trouble if it wasn't for that
damned Siamese flag. Nobody to go to — or I would
make it hot for him. The fraud ! Told his chief
engineer — that's another fraud for you — I had lost my
nerve. The greatest lot of ignorant fools that ever
sailed the seas. No! You can't think . . ."
*• Got your money all right ? " inquired his seedy
" Yes. Paid me oft on board," raged the second
mate. " ' Get your breakfast on shore,' says he."
" Mean skunk I " commented the tall man vaguely,
and passed his tongue on his lips. " What about having
a drink of some sort ? "
" He struck me," hissed the second mate.
" No ! Struck ! You don't say ? " The man in blue
began to bustle about sympathetically. " Can't possibly
talk here. I want to know all about it. Struck — eh ?
Let's get a fellow to carry your chest. I know a quiet
place where they have some bottled beer. . . ."
Mr. Jukes, who had been scanning the shore through
a pair of glasses, informed the chief engineer after-
wards that " our late second mate hasn't been long in
finding a friend. A chap looking uncommonly like a
bummer. I saw them walk away together from the
The hammering and banging of the needful repairs
did not disturb Captain MacWhirr. The steward
found in the letter he wrote, in a tidy chart-room,
passages of such absorbing interest that twice he was
nearly caught in the act. But Mrs. MacWhirr, in the
drawing-room of the fort3^-pound house^ stifled a yawn
— perhaps out of self-respect — for she was alone.
She reclined in a plush-bottomed and gilt hammock-
chair near a tiled fireplace, with Japanese fans on the
mantel and a glowof coals in the grate. Lifting her hands,
she glanced wearily here and there into the many pages.
It was not her fault they were so prosy, so completely
uninteresting — from " My darling wife " at the begin-
ning, to ** Your loving husband " at the end. She
couldn't be really expected to understand all these ship
affairs. She was glad, of course, to hear from him, but
she had never asked herself why, precisely.
". . . They are called typhoons . . . The mate did
not seem to like it . . . Not in books . . . Couldn't
think of letting it go on. ..."
The paper rustled sharply. ". , . . A calm that
lasted over twenty minutes," she read perfunctorily ;
and the next words her thoughtless eyes caught, on
the top of another page, were ; " see you and the chil-
dren again. . . ." She had a movement of impatience.
He was always thinking of coming home. He had
never had such a good salary before. What was the
matter now ?
It did not occur to her to turn back overleaf to look.
She would have found it recorded there that between
4 and 6 a.m. on December 25th, Captain MacWhirr did
actually think that his ship could not possibly live
another hour in such a sea, and that he would never
see his wife and children again. Nobody was to know
this (his letters got mislnid so quickly) — nobody what-
ever but the steward, who had been greatly impressed
by that disclosure. So much so, that he tried to give
the cook some idea of the "narrow squeak we all had"
by saying solemnly, " The old man himself had a dam'
poor opinion of our chance."
" How do you know ? " asked contemptuously the
cook, an old soldier, " He hasn't told you, maybe ? "
"Well, he did give me a hint to that elfcct," the
steward brazened it out.
" Get along with you ! He will be coming to tell
me next," jeered the old cook over his shoulder.
Mrs. MacWhirr glanced farther, on the alert. ". . .
Do what's fair. . . . Miserable objects. . . . Only three,
with a broken leg each, and one . . . Thought had
better keep the matter quiet . . . hope to have done
the fair thing. ..."
She let fall her hands. No : there was nothing more
about coming home. Must have been merely express-
ing a pious wish. Mrs, Mac Whirr's mind was set at
ease, and a black marble clock, priced by the local
jeweller at £s i8s. 6d., had a discreet stealthy tick.
The door flew open, and a girl in the long-legged,
short-frocked period of existence, flung into the room.
A lot of colourless, rather lanky hair was scattered
over her shoulders. Seeing her mother, she stood still,
and directed her pale prying e3'es upon the letter.
"From father," murmured Mrs. MacWhirr. "What
have you done with your ribbon ? "
The girl put her hands up to her head and pouted.
" He's well," continued Mrs. MacWhirr languidly.
"At least I think so. He never says." She had a
little laugh. The girl's face expressed a wandering
indifference, and Mrs. MacWhirr surveyed her with
" Go and get your hat," she said after a while. "I
am going out to do some shopping. There is a sale
" Oh, how jolly ! " uttered the child impressively, in
unexpectedly grave vibrating tones, and bounded out
of the room.
It was a fine afternoon, with a grey sky and dry
sidewalks. Outside the draper's Mrs. MacWhirr
smiled upon a woman in a black mantle of generous
proportions, armoured in jet and crowned with flowers
blooming falsely above a bilious matronly countenance.
They broke into a swift little babble of greetings and
exclamations both together, very hurried, as if the
street were ready to yawn open and swallow all that
pleasure before it could be expressed.
Behind them the high glass doors were kept on the
swing. People couldn't pass, men stood aside waiting
patiently, and Lydia was absorbed in poking the end
of her parasol between the stone flags. Mrs. MacWhirr
" Thank you very much. He's not coming home yet.
Of course it's very sad to have him away, but it's such
a comfort to know he keeps so well." Mrs. MacWhirr
drew breath. "The climate there agrees with him,"
she added beamingly, as if poor MacWhirr had been
away touring in China for the sake of his health.
Neither was the chief engineer coming home yet.
Mr. Rout knew too well the value of a good billet.
" Solomon says wonders will never cease," cried
Mrs. Rout joyously at the old lady in her armchair
by the fire. Mr. Rout's mother moved slightly, her
withered hands lying in black half-mittens on her lap.
The eyes of the engineer's wife fairly danced on the
paper. ** That captain of the ship he is in — a rather
dimple man, you remember, mother ? — has done some-
thing rather clever, Solomon sa3's."
*' Yes, my dear," said the old woman meekly, sitting
with bowed silvery head, and that air of inward still-
ness characteristic of very old people who seem lost in
watching the last flickers of life. " I think I remember."
Solomon Rout, Old Sol, Father Sol,Tlic Chief, " Rout,
good man" — Mr. Rout, the condescending and paternal
friend of youth, had been the baby of her many children
'—all dead by this time. And she remembered him
best as a boy of ten — long before he went away to
serve his apprenticeship in some great engineering
works in the North. She had seen so httle of him
since, she had gone through so many years, that she
had now to retrace her steps very far back to recognise
him plainly in the mist of time. Sometimes it seemed
that her daughter-in-law was talking of some strange
Mrs. Rout junior was disappointed. " H'm. H'm."
She turned the page. " Hov/ provoking ! He doesn't
say what it is. Says I couldn't understand how much
there was in it. Fancy ! What could it be so very
clever ? What a wretched man not to tell us ! "
She read on without further remark soberly, and at
last sat looking into the fire. The chief wrote just a
word or two of the typhoon ; but something had moved
liim to express an increased longing for the companion-
ship of the jolly woman. "If it hadn't been that
mother must be looked after, I would send you your
passage-money to-day. You could set up a small house
out here. I would have a chance to see you sometimes
then. We are not growing younger. . . ."
** He's well, mother," sighed Mrs. Rout, rousing
" He always was a strong healthy boy," said the old
But Mr. Jukes' account was really animated and
very full. His friend in the Western Ocean trade
n parted it freely to the other officers of his Hner. "A
chap I know writes to me about an extraordinary affair
that happened on board his ship in that typhoon — you
know — that we read of in the papers two months ago.
It's the funniest thing ! Just see for yourself what he
says. I'll show you his letter."
There were phrases in it calculated to give the
impression of light-hearted, indomitable resolution.
Jukes had written them in good faith, for he felt thus
when he wrote. He described with lurid effect the
scenes in the 'tween-deck. "... It struck me in a
flash that those confounded Chinamen couldn't tell we
weren't a desperate kind of robbers. 'Tisn't good to
part the Chinaman from his money if he is the stronger
party. We need have been desperate indeed to go
thieving in such weather, but what could these beggars
know of us ? So, without thinking of it twice, I got
the hands away in a jiffy. Our work was done — that
the old man had set his heart on. We cleared out
without staying to inquire how they felt. I am con-
vinced that if they had not been so unmercifully shaken,
and afraid — each individual one of them — to stand up,
we would have been torn to pieces. Oh 1 It was
pretty complete, I can tell you ; and you may run to
and fro across the Pond to the end of time before you
find yourself with such a job on your hands."
After this he alluded professionally to the damage
done to the ship, and went on thus :
" It was when the weather quieted down that the
situation became confoundedly delicate. It wasn't
made any better by us having been lately transferred to
the Siamese flag ; though the skipper can't see that it
makes any diflVrence — ' as long as ivc are on board ' —
he says. There are feelings that this man simply
hasn't got — and there's an end of it. You might just
as well try to make a bedpost understand. But apart
from this it is an infernally lonely state for a ship to
be going about the China seas with no proper consuls,
not even a gunboat of her own anywhere, nor a body
to go to in case of some trouble.
" My notion was to keep these Johnnies under hatches
for another fifteen hours or so ; as we weren't much
farther than that from Fu-chau. We would find there,
most likely, some sort of a man-of-war, and once under
her guns we were safe enough ; for surely any skipper
of a man-of-war — English, French or Dutch — would
see white men through as far as row on board goes.
We could get rid of them and their money afterwards by
delivering them to their Mandarin or Taotai, or whatever
they call these chaps in goggles you see being carried
about in sedan-chairs through their stinking streets.
" The old man wouldn't see it somehow. He wanted
to keep the matter quiet. He got that notion into his
head, and a steam windlass couldn't drag it out of him.
He wanted as little fuss made as possible, for the sake
of the ship's name and for the sake of the owners — ' for
the sake of all concerned,' says he, looking at me very
hard. It made me angry hot. Of course you couldn't
keep a thing like that quiet ; but the chests had been
secured in the usual manner and were safe enough
for any earthly gale, while this had been an alto-
gether fiendish business I couldn't give you even an
" Meantime, I could hardly keep on my feet. None
of us had a spell of any sort for nearly thirty hours,
and there the old man sat rubbing his chin, rubbing the
top of his head, and so bothered he didn't even think
of pulling his long boots off.
" * I hope, sir/ says I, ' you won't be letting them
out on deck before we make ready for them in some
shape or other.' Not, mind you, that I felt very san-
guine about controlling these beggars if they meant to
take charge. A trouble with a cargo of Chinamen is
no child's play. I was dam' tired too. ' I wish,' said
I, * you would let us throw the whole lot of these
dollars down to them and leave them to fight it out
amongst themselves, while we get a rest.'
" * Now you talk wild. Jukes,' says he, looking up in
his slow way that makes you ache all over, somehow.
'We must plan out something that would be fair to all
" I had no end of work on hand, as you may imagine,
so I set the hands going, and then I thought I would
turn in a bit. I hadn't been asleep in my bunk ten
minutes when in rushes the steward and begins to pull
at my leg.
" ' For God's sake, Mr. Jukes, come out ! Come on
deck quick, sir. Oh, do come out ! '
" The fellow scared all the sense out of me. I didn't
know what had happened : another hurricane — or what.
Could hear no wind.
" 'The Captain's letting them out. Oh, he is letting
them out 1 Jump on deck, sir, and save us. The chief
engineer has just run below for his revolver.'
" That's what I understood the fool to say. How-
ever, Father Rout swears he went in there only to get a
clean pocket-handkerchief. Anyhow, I made one jump
into my trousers and flew on deck aft. There was
certainly a good deal of noise going on forward of the
bridge. Four of the hands with the boss'en were at
work abaft. I passed up to them some of the rifles all
the ships on the China coast carry in the cabin, and led
them on the bridge. On the way I ran against Old
Sol, looking startled and sucking at an unlighted cigar.
" ' Come along,' I shouted to him.
" We charged, the seven of us, up to the chart-room.
All was over. There stood the old man with his sea-
boots still drawn up to the hips and in shirt-sleeves —
got warm thinking it out, I suppose. Bun-hin's dandy
clerk at his elbow, as dirt}^ as a sweep, was still green
in the face. I could see directly I was in for some-
" * What the devil are these monkey tricks, Mr.
Jakes? ' asks the old man, as angry as ever he could
be, I tell you frankly it made me lose my tongue.
' For God's sake, Mr. Jukes,' says he, * do take away
these rifles from the men. Somebody's sure to get hurt
before long if you don't. Damme, if this ship isn't
worse than Bedlam ! Look sharp now. I want you
up here to help me and Bun-hin's Chinaman to count
that money. You wouldn't mind lending a hand too,
Mr. Rout, now you are here. The more of us the
" He had settled it all in his mind while I was having
a snooze. Had we been an English ship, or only going
to land our cargo of coolies in an English port, like
Hong-Kong, for instance, there would have been no
end of inquiries and bother, claims for damages and
so on. But these Chinamen know their officials better
than we do.
" The hatches had been taken off already, and they
were all on dec.\ after a niglit and a day down below.
It made you feel queer to see so many gaunt, wild faces
together. The beggars stared about at the sky, at the
sea, at the ship, as though they had expected the whole
thing to have been blown to pieces. And no wonder I
They had had a doing that would have shaken the soul
out of a white man. But then they say a Chinaman
has no soul. He has, though, something about him
that is deuced tough. There was a fellow (amongst
others of the badly hurt) who had had his eye all but
knocked out. It stood out of his head the size of half
a hen's egg. This would have laid out a white man on
his back for a month : and yet there was that chap
elbowing here and there in the crowd and talking to
the others as if nothing had been the matter. They
made a great hubbub amongst themselves, and when-
ever the old man showed his bald head on the foreside
of the bridge, they would all leave off jawing and look
at him from below.
" It seems that after he hfd done his thinking he
made that Bun-hin's fellow go down and explain to
them the only way they could get their money back.
He told me afterwards that, all the coolies having
worked in the same place and for the same length of
time, he reckoned he would be doing the fair thing by
them as near as possible if he shared all the cash we
had picked up equally among the lot. You couldn't
tell one man's dollars from another's, he said, and if you
asked each man how much money he brought on
board he was afraid they would lie, and he would
find himself a long way short. I think he was right
there. As to giving up the money to any Cliines;e
official he could scare up in Fu-chau, he said he might
just as well put the lot in his own pocket at once for all
the good it would be to them. I suppose they thought
" We finished the distribution before dark. It was
rather a sight : the sea running high, the ship a wreck
to look at, these Chinamen staggering up on the bridge
one by one for their share, and the old man still booted,
and in his shirt-sleeves, busy paying out at the chart-
room door, perspiring like anything, and now and then
coming down sharp on myself or Father Rout about
one thing or another not quite to his mind. He took
the share of those who were disabled himself to them
on the No. 2 hatch. There were three dollars left over,
and these went to the three most damaged coolies, one
to each. We turned-to afterwards, and shovelled out
on deck heaps of wet rags, all sorts of fragments of
things without shape, and that you couldn't give a
name to, and let them settle the ownership them-
"This certainly is coming as near as can be to
keeping the thing quiet for the benefit of all concerned.
What's your opinion, you pampered mail-boat swell ?
The old chief says that this was plainly the only thing
that could be done. The skipper remarked to me the
other day, ' There are things you find nothing about in
books.' I think that he got out of it very well for such
a stupid man."
A LITTLE LIST OF DELIGHTFUL
BOOKS TO READ BY
Sir G. Parker, M.P.
H. G. Wells
E. F. Benson
H. de Vere Stacpoole
R. L. Stevenson
R. Harding Davis
D. D. Wells
Baroness von Hutten
Florence C. Price
Mrs. Henry Dudeney
Justin Huntly McCarthy
Flora Annie Steel
Mrs. Hodgson Burnett
E. L. Voynich
On all Boohlalh and of all Boohelkn
HEINEMANN'S 1/- net NOVELS
By ELEANOR HALLOWELL ABBOTT
A New Novel now in its Second Impression.
Was that boy a fool? Or did he behave a
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One thing is certain, no sooner do you make
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By SIR GILBERT PARKER, M.P.
Author of "The Ladder of Swords," etc.
Sir Gilbert Parker is one of our finest romance
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By H. DE VERE STACPOOLE
Author of " The Blue Lagoon," etc.
Written with that verve and wonderfully in-
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author The Outlook, says: "That rare and de-
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HEINEMANN'S 1/. net NOVELS
By BARONESS VON HUTTEN
X /\.JVl (5th Impression in this Edition)
Pam is a 'classic' before her time so to speak.
People are compared to ' Pam ' ; so to their dis-
advantage are most girl heroines of the novels.
She is inimitable.
WHAT BECAME OF PAM
(5th Impression in this Edition)
" Whether we have or have not read ' Pam,'
we shall certainly find ' What became of Pam '
interesting." — Daily Telegraph.
OUR LADY OF THE
Balzac says * The dramas of life do not lie in
the circumstances surrounding — they lie in the
heart.' This is a drama of the heart.
" This tender idyll . . . we can only recom-
mend our readers to buy and read it for them-
selves."— Da/7y Mail.
By LLOYD OSBOURNE
Author of "Baby Bullet," etc.
" Crowded with thrilling incident the narrative
races along. The book can be recommended to
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HEINEMANN'S 1/- net NOVELS
By FRANK DANBY
Author of "Pigs In Clover," etc.
This brilliant eaustic writer here gives one of
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She wields no timid pen and does not hesitate to
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THE COUNTRY HOUSE
By JOHN GALSWORTHY
Author of " A Man of Property," etc.
This problem of the country family, the county
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vitally. What they had to solve we have to
solve. And it is Mr. Galsworthy's strong point
that he never fails to give us a new vision, nor to
hold our interest intent throughout. It is an
By FLORENCE C. PRICE
A good story of London society and of polit-
ical society. Lord Kentwell and his sisters
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besides a background of big happenings very
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THE SEA WOLF
By JACK LONDON
Author of " The Call of the Wild.*
A gruesome, thrilling story of the sea. Mr.
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it is probably as good a book as. Mr. London has
THE NIGGER OF THE
" NARCISSUS "
By JOSEPH CONRAD
Author of " Typhoon," etc.
Mr. Conrad is a writer to whom the public
instinctively turn nowadays for an exciting,
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THE MAGNETIC NORTH
By ELIZABETH ROBINS
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" It is all so excellently written, so vividly
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HEINEMANN'S 1/- net NOVELS
TWO NOVELS by E. F. BENSON
Author of " Sheaves," etc., etc.
THE BLOTTING BOOK
A murder story, most ingeniously worked out.
Mr. Benson carries the reader along full speed
to a truly dramatic ending.
THE BABE, B.A.
A very different story from the * Blotting
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By Mrs. HENRY DUDENEY
THE MATERNITY OF
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THE ORCHARD THIEF
A charming country tale with, in particular,
one great scene of strikingly dramatic force. The
contrast of this author's power to charm and to
impress as she wills, is markedly shown in this
HEINEMANN'S 1/- net NOVELS
THE TIME MACHINE
By H. G. WELLS
Author of " The War of the Worlds," "Kips," etc.
You pull certain levers, having seated your-
self in the saddle, and you are conveyed either
backwards or forwards. When Mr. W^ells is in
the saddle it is easy to see how highly pleasur-
able the consequent adventures will be. This
clever idea has given Mr. Wells opportunity for
full play of his philosophic views.
IF I WERE KING
By JUSTIN HUNTLY McGARTHY
A mediaeval romance of love and chivalry in
which the poet Frangois Villon plays the lead-
ing part. It has drama, this story, and it seizes
MARCIA IN GERMANY
By SYBIL SPOTTISWOODE
Author of " Hedwig in England," etc.
Marcia is a bright, pleasant English girl, who
goes to stay with her German relations. As
others before her she finds it dilTicult to grasp a
different point of view, a different civilisation.
The result is amusingly set forth by this author,
whose dialogue is always good.
HEINEMANN'S 1/- net NOVELS
GODFREY MARTEN :
By CHARLES TURLEY
One of the very best of boys' books. It Is one
of the rarest of all rare things — a thoroughly
sensible school story. The boys are human,
neither saints nor super-sinners, and the masters
for once behave in a totally reasonable way.
And that doesn't prevent it being a rattling good
THE RED BADGE OF
By STEPHEN CRANE
Author of " The Open Boat," etc.
The thunders of war, the life of regiments, the
soul of humanity in stress and dangers, its quali-
ties and shortcomings are all written on the
pages of this thrilling and absorbing book. From
the first paragraph our enthusiasm is gained and
is not let go till the last.
" Simply unapproached in intimate knowledge
and sustained imaginative strength."
— Saturday Review.
THE STREET OF
By PHILIP GIBBS
The * Street ' is Fleet Street of course, for in
what other are so many adventures to be found.
The ^^oening Standard says : "It has the quality
of big work. . . , . The book positively pants
By ROBERT HIGHENS
Author of "The Londoners," "Flames," An
Imaginative Man," etc.
This is the excellent novel on which the excel-
lent play of the same title is founded. It is a book
full of weird, haunting scenes of passion in the
desert, full of the strange sinister fatalism of
"This is one of the best novels that we have
ever read, and quite the best that Mr. Robert
Hichens has written. It combines the two
elements of which every good novel ought to be
composed, subtle analysis of character and an
exciting plot. . . , We will not spoil the read-
ing of, this book by sketching the thrilling plot,
which" is enacted on the Nile and its banks.
Needless to say, the Egyptian scenery and ser-
vants are described by Mr. Hichens with affec-
tionate familiarity."— 5a/urJai; Review.
" It is admirable drama. It lives with a pre-
sent life, and moves swiftly. Some of the situ-
ations are intensely thrilling; the dialogue is
firm and easy ; the whole treatment forcible
without theatricahsm. . . . Our attention is
fixed at the start, and kept to the end, on a duel
between Isaacson and Bella Donna. It is mag-
nificent . . . there can be no denying it is a
very fine novel." ^
— The (Svening Standard and Si. James s Gazette.
"It is particularly interesting; its characters
are drawn with particular care and splendid
skill. . . - * Bella Donna ' is a fine study of a
woman of passion ; remorseless in its truth,
fascinating in its unmasking of the hidden springs
of selfish desire."— r/je Qlobe.
HEINEMANN'S 2/- net NOVELS
By WILLA S. GATHER.
A story that will take its place among the
brilliant first novels. It is dramatic, powerful,
and haunting to the memory — marked in an
uncommon degree by the qualities of distinction,
of excellence of workmanship, perceptiveness,
actuality, and the spiritual sense of life.
By Mrs. HODGSON BURNETT
Author of " Little Lord Fauntleroy," "The Secret
"Takes its place at once and without dispute
among the greater permanent works of fiction.
Breadth and sanity of outlook, absolute mastery
of human character and life, bigness of story
interest, place Mrs. Hodgson Burnett's new
book alongside the best work of George Eliot.
. . . The dignity and strength of a great novel
such as this put to the blush all but a very few
living English story-teilers."
—Pall Mall Qazette.
" A remarkable novel, for it is written with a
sincerity and glow and power which bear the
reader restlessly along the strange current of
events that the writer sets herself to describe,"
"Mrs. Burnett has the gift of a narrator to a
high degree, and in spite of its faults, her latest
novel makes a highly readable story."
— Dady Mai7.
HEINEMANN'S 2/- net NOVELS
A SHIP OF SOLACE
By ELEANOR MORDAUNT
Author of " The Garden of Contentment,"
"The Cost of It," etc.
" The Garden of Contentment," those charm-
ing letters to Mr. Nobody, has never ceased to
sell from the moment it was published. The
same may be said of " A Ship of Solace," which
is filled with the breath of the sea, and the
pleasing state of mind of complete idleness. It
is a book for quiet hours, to which one can
turn with pleasurable anticipation of repose and
"Readers who like the scent of real sea air
will revel in this truly delightful book."
THE GIFT OF THE GODS
By FLORA ANNIE STEEL •
Author of "On the Face of the Waters," "The Potter's
Thumb,'' "From the Five Rivers," etc., etc.
" She has that gift, rare now among novelists,
of being interested, first of all, in the story she
has to tell. She is herself so strongly interested
that her readers are carried along with her and
share in her vitality and freshness."
" Mrs. Steel gives us one admirably dramatic
scene — the death of an old woman from shock
at a sudden disillusion while on her way to the
Communion Table. . . . The squalid and starve-
ling lot of crofters living on barren soil in or
towards the last decade of the 19th century is
well depicted."— .4//jcnarunj.
HEINEMANN'S 2/- net NOVELS
THE BOOK OF A
By DUNCAN SCHWANN
Author of •' The Magic of the Hill."
Mr. Duncan Schwann has recently been
acclaimed as one of the four great humourists in
England at the present time. This "Book of a
Bachelor " is delightful reading of a light kind,
but it carries weight also, for Mr. Schwann lias
picked out the little feeblenesses and frailty of
this world as a background to his airy frivolity.
" A picturesque romance of modern life is this
story by Duncan Schwann. . . . There is,
indeed, a good deal of cleverness in the book."
"... Is decidedly entertaining. Mr. Schwann
is an admirable journalist who has already given
proof of his power, but he has done nothing so
good as this . . . which is intelligent, humorous,
and on the side of the angels."
— British Weekly.
" There is knowledge of the world and some
mild philosophy to be found in this pleasant
romance of modern life." — Qlobe.
The Novels of E. F. BENSON
Uniform Edition. Crown 8vo. With coloured
Frontispiece and Wrapper. Each vol. 2/- net.
"The readers of Mr. Benson's book will delight in this
story. It is full of interest and cleverness."
—Pall Mall Gazette.
" We would recommend this to our readers. It has
vivid characters staged cleverly, and a subtle charm
which make the work thoroughly enjoyable."
MAMMON & CO.
"Bright, witty dialogues and gay fascinating scenes.
Full of humorous sayings and witty things."
— Daily Telegraph.
THE LUCK OF THE VAILS
" This is a really thrilling and exciting tale of crime
and mystery. It is readable all through and full of enter-
tainment." — Times.
SCARLET AND HYSSOP
" Must be accounted a really brilliant piece of work,
unsurpassed by anything Mr. Benson has given us."
—Pall Mall Qazetie.
THE BOOK OF MONTHS
AND A REAPING
" 'The Book of Months' is full of charm — real, per-
suasive, penetrating charm — there rings the sincerity of
real feeling and purpose." — "Daily Chronicle.
" 'The Challoners' must be pronounced not only the
best book he has given us but one of the best novels."
The Novels of E. F. BENSON
Uniform Edition. Crown 8vo. With coloured
Frontispiece and Wrapper. Each vol. 2 " net.
THE ANGEL OF PAIN
"An admirably constructed story, brilliant character
sketches, flashes of good talk — a remarkably clever
book." — Guardian.
THE IMAGE OF THE
"Even the sceptic must admit the grim power of the
book." — [Bookman.
" Mr. Benson at his gayest and best. Nothing could
he more natural or more amusing than most of the
dialogue — full of admirable portraiture and an abundance
both of humour and humanity." — Outlook-
" Brillant, clever, full of wise observations and sage
counsels. " — Standard.
" His story is written with striking efiFect, and the
author's wonderful power of observation is to be found
in almost every page." — World.
''Delightful in its literary brightness and charm, it is
also full of exquisite and appealing humanity ... a fine
achievement." — Liverpool Mercury.
" This is an admirably written study of English modern
life. Lovers of Mr. Benson's work will be charmed wItK
his latest novel." — 'U. 'P.'s Weekly.
"As human and sincere as anything in 'Sheaves* or
the 'Challoners.' A charming story." — Observer.
HEINEMANN'S 7^' net NOVELS
By HALL GAINE
" Mr. Hall Caine has in this work placed himself
beyond the front rank of the novelists of the day."
— The Scotsman.
" There are passages in ' The Scapegoat ' which entitle
Mr. Hall Caine to a high place amongst contemporary
writers of fiction. — TDail^ Chronicle.
By R. L. STEVENSON (in conjunction
"The master storyteller is apparent to the reader of
this book. It is full of freshness, incident and character.
It is a splendid tale." — Guardian.
By JACK LONDON
THE CALL OF THE WILD
" It is impossible not to recognise the skill with which
Mr. London follows out point by point the training of a
sledge dog. 'The Call of the Wild ' is a very remarkable
book." — Daily Chronicle.
By H. G. WELLS
THE WAR OF THE
" Original and ingenious romance which attests strongly
the variety and fertility of Mr. Wells' imagination."
— Do/'/j) Chronicle,
By KOBERT IIICHENS
" Tlie picturesque charm of Mr. Hichens' style and his
indisputoMe command of the weird and mysterious will
hold attention fixed from the first chapter of this power-
ful story to the last." — Graphic.
By E. L. VOYNIGH
" Itis more interesring and rich in promise than nir
nine out of every hundred novels that pass through
reviewer's hand." — Academy.
By RICHARD HARDING DAVIS
IN THE FOG
" Undoubtedly the book of the moment is Rtc
Harding Davis' ' In the Fog.' . . The merit of the
is doubtless to be found in the last unexpected touch
SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE
"Mr. Davis has the dramatic gift — he carries
along with him. One need not wish for a better
of action than this." — Jlcademy.
By MAXWELL GRAY
THE LAST SENTENCE
" Any reader who wants an absorbing story, f
cleverness and excitement, should read this book."
By D. D. WELLS
HER LADYSHIP'S ELEPHA
"It is an admirable piece of humour with not a
page in it from beginning to end." — Atheneum.
By JOSEPH CONRAD
"It is always an intellectual stimulus to rea<
Conrad, and he has written little that is finer thj
purple patches in 'Typhoon.'" — Times.
By HAROLD FREDERIC
The RETURN of THE O'MAHC
This most excellent story of Ireland, written 1:
Harold Frederic, is sure to be a popular volu
HEINEMANN'S SEVENPENNY LIBRARY.
protably more imbued with the true spirit c
Emerald Isle than any novel of the day.
LONDON : WILLIAM HEINEMANN : 21 Bedford
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